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תשובה - Repentance

A long time ago, Jonah was called by God to help the people of Nineveh do teshuvah. Little did he know that that call was also for him to do teshuvah. The idea of taking an honest look at his mistakes was so scary that he came to this place, Yafo to run away from God and, perhaps himself as well.

At this time of year we look at ourselves and take what’s called cheshbon hanefesh an honest accounting of our actions. Here’s your chance.

During this month, don’t run away like Yonah did - take this opportunity to do real teshuvah.  

But what is real teshuvah?

According to several Jewish medieval authorities, teshuvah involves a series of concrete steps, which culminate in teshuvah sh’leimah, “complete repentance.” They are:

  1. Recognize mistakes you have made. The first step to teshuvah is recognizing that we did not perform one of God’s commandments.

  2. Distance yourself from that mistake and refuse to continue seeing it as a necessary part or consequence of your personality.

  3. Confess your mistakes. Make your teshuvah real through the act of speaking.

  4. Say you’re sorry. If teshuvah is to be more than simply a way to feel good again, if it is to become a tool for repairing the world and implementing God’s brit (covenant) more fully, then it must transcend the realm of emotion and conversation, entering the tangible world of action.

  5. Make it right. Re-balance the scales in precisely the same way that they were set askew. This can be done through financial reimbursement, a gift, personal service, or some other means.

  6. Resolve not to make the mistake again. All the preceding steps are meaningless unless they result in a commitment not to repeat the mistake.


So now it’s your turn.  
Choose one mistake you have made this past year and do teshuvah. Make sure to follow through on each of the six steps above.
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