This is first blog in the Jewish New Year 5777. The High Holidays are always very spiritually charged both positively and negatively for our people. There is a heaviness that we feel as we do our personal checks and balances for the past year in the same way that we do in our businesses to see if we have made a profit or we have a deficit. We are to search within our souls, our neshama and ask the Creator to show us where we need to improve. Many of us do not truly understand what it means to do this searching. In Hebrew there is a term called teshuva which comes from the word “shuv” to return or come back. Many people interpret it as repentance yet it is so much more. The only way that we can return to the Creator is by acknowledging what we have done through honest examination of ourselves. We often may not even know if we have done something wrong which is why this is the time to ask the Creator to show us as it is written in Psalm 139:23-24. This way we can see it and then make it right. This is an important step. Without reparation there is no true teshuva. Sometimes we cannot repair what we have done. That’s when we need to confess it to our Creator and truly show Him our sorrow. If it has been toward a person, we need to ask forgiveness and to make restitution, with interest. Saying sorry is not enough. We need to make things right. Once we have done this, the Sha’ar Hashamayim – the Gates of Heaven open and we can enter into a relationship with the Creator. This is the true teshuva or korbanot, offering of ourselves to Him.
Our set of beliefs is so beautiful. We have been given the understanding about HaSefer haChaim, the Book of Life starting with Moshe Rabeinu when he said to the Creator, please forgive these people, don’t destroy them; instead erase my name from your Book of Life. There are several places in the Tanach that refer to this Book as well as in the Book of Revelation in chapter 20 which speaks about the last judgment and who will be written in this special Book. At Rosh Hashanah there are greetings like “L’Shana Tova Tikateivu” — May your name be inscribed or L’shana Tova u’Metuka — May you have a good and sweet year. We have some beautiful traditions, with wonderful meaning which we love to share with you. As we approach Yom Kippur we say, Gmar Chatima Tova, May your name be sealed in the Book of Life. At this time of year, may we respond to His voice as we listen to the sounding of the shofar.