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Shabbos Chic Blog

Rosh Hashana

What is Teshuva All About?

I love Elul!  The feel of fall is in the air, most obvious in the early mornings since daytime temps are still reaching up to and over  100 degrees here in north Texas now.  

I want to share what Rabbi Yitzchak Schwartz wrote about Teshuva, It gives me a sense of hope and encouragement to consider the power of return to humility and forgiveness during the High Holy Days each year.

"Teshuva involves different kinds of intentions and different levels of intentions, on a scale of higher to lower. Probably the highest level of intention is Teshuva from love, meaning a person doesn’t change ways because he’s afraid of punishment, of hell (which is another level of Teshuva), but because he feels bad that he didn’t take advantage of his relationship with G-d. This type of Teshuva elicits results which are much higher, raising up the sins a person commits to become merits instead."  
Rabbi Yitzchak Schwartz,  ParadisePrinciple.com

Rosh Hashanah 5775

Each year I strive to learn more and more, and that makes each Rosh Hashanah incredibly exciting.  This year I learned something truly profound from Rabbi Yaakov Zalman Labinsky of BecomingDivine.com and it has changed my perspective on the month of Elul and its culmination in Rosh Hashanah, the head of the year.

Teshuva, returning, turning again, means we redirect ourselves back to our tender beginnings, before we collected life experiences that tainted our perception of ourselves and others. Especially in our marriages.

It's about getting back to our more idyllic state, before we became fragmented, when we were one with Hashem. We can choose to see our marriage as it was in the beginning, and see ourselves as we were in our embryonic state.

We are not perfect; our marriages are not perfect. But at this important time of year, especially at Rosh Hashanah we are charged with the opportunity to be human and to bring the tender newness of our oneness with Hashem into our personal lives and into our marriages once again.




Teshuva this Elul 5774

Rae Shagalov inspires our Teshuva this year in a lovely way on her beautiful art blog, and also her YouTube video.

Four words beginning with the letter R make it easier to remember what we think about this month of Elul, but not necessarily easier to DO, right?

But remembering is truly the first step. We are so busy and distracted that simply remembering to consider Teshuva during Elul is a big deal.

I have so grown so much this Elul 5774  in membership classes offered by Jewish Workshops and led by Rabbi Akiva Tatz.  Here's a wonderful Elul teaching by Rabbi Tatz where you'll find world-class Jewish teaching at no cost, 24/7.

In a special Rosh Hashana webinar today Rabbi Tatz said, "Teshuva works because it removes your will from the sin... You disowned it, detached your name from it."

Sounds good to me!  L'Shanna Tova 5775 to one and all!

Eikev & High Holy Days 5775

I'm really enjoying Devarim (Deuteronomy) this year.  As I read I feel connected to Moses's words to the Israelites in Parashat Eikev this week, including these:

"At the end of the forty days and forty nights, God gave me the two stone tablets as tablets of the covenant. But God then said to me, "Get moving and hurry down from here!

The nation that you brought out of Egypt has become corrupt. They have been quick to turn aside from the path that I prescribed for them, and they have made themselves a cast statute." Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, The Living Torah

(Seen on a T-shirt lately)
Don't Give Up! Moses Was Once A Basket Case

But seriously, woe unto us when we make idols of anything, which of course includes important things and people in our lives, such as our smart phones and our grandkids. It's really true....

Elul is coming soon, and then the High Holy Days.  How I love Shuli Kleinman's generous post that provides easy access to Rabbi Doniel Katz' four videos presented to help us prepare deeply for Yom Kippur this year.  

Here's Rabbi Doniel Katz' formula explained in his first video. Curious? I'll be posting more in my preparation process this year, for sure.

And here's a wonderful, useful prayer from my Breslov Research Institute (Rebbe Nachman) email today-

Dear G-d! Please show me that the very traits which cause me such distress are actually the path to true connection and purity.

Help me keep patiently yearning until You enable the slight adjustments of attitude and action and transform my negatives to advantages.

Jerusalem Gold 2013 and My Spiritual Treasure

Last week,  the Times of Israel posted Ilan Ben Zion's report of a real-life treasure trove of ancient gold discovered by archeologist Eliat Mazar.

"The find, unearthed in the area adjacent to the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount known as the Ophel, was dated to the early 7th century CE, in all likelihood the time of the brief Persian conquest of Jerusalem."

Mazar speculates that, "the hoard of gold and silver objects, found beneath the floor of a Byzantine-era house meters from the massive walls of the Temple Mount, was brought by Jews who returned to the city after the Persians conquered it from the Byzantines in 614 CE."

While reading about the Jerusalem treasure today, I found myself thinking about our Yom Kippur service yesterday. There were not very many people gathered in our little Temple to pray.

Apparently  many Jews do not treasure Yom Kippur as I do.

Now, this is not a comment about what other people should do on Yom Kippur, or how it should be done correctly. I am simply stating that Yom Kippur is true treasure to me in my life.

My annual opportunity to seek and find spiritual treasure during the whole month of Elul, on Rosh Hashana, during the 10 Days of Awe and of course on Yom Kippur is beyond monetary valuation. It is priceless. And I find it over and over, regularly, without fail.

I can count on finding spiritual treasure because it's already scheduled for me. It's right on my calendar every year!

Maybe the comparison between a fortune in ancient gold coins recently found near the Temple Mount and the value I place on the High Holy Days is politically incorrect in this world right now.

Mercifully, it's not this world that matters in the long run, other than seeing and knowing it as preparation for the World To Come.

To me, Yom Kippur is for Preppers of the World To Come!

And what could be more exciting than that? Well, possibly Succot, the Season of Joy that will soon be upon us. It starts this Wednesday evening, September 18th.

I love this quote from my JewishAmerica.com email today:

"Those who don’t stop growing come to happiness from being Jewish and from realizing a connection to One who is focused on giving us every opportunity to become great in ways we can’t imagine."

See Rita Brownstein's adorable DIY Sukkah lights and make some for yourself this year.

What is the essence of Rosh Hashana?

Although I was participating in the live Skype session as Dr Yedidah Cohen translated this section of Zohar  explained by Rabbi Yehudah  Lev Ashlag in the Perush HaSulam, it is very helpful to be able to listen to it again and again in her recording  posted as The Shofar: The Sound of Compassion.

"The twelve months of the year are the tikun of the Malchut, from its beginning to its end.

Since it is not completely finished until the Gemar HaTikun (the end of the Tikun) we need each year to come back and rectify it.

And therefore, on each Rosh Hashana we start the tikun of the Malchut again.

So, the word shanah, shin-nun-hey, is a cycle."

Yedidah's English translation of Rabbi Ashlag's explanation brought me around to understanding that the essence of Rosh Hashana is quite the opposite of harsh, critical judgment of my sins.

It is a day to relish the love and attention of my Creator's confident expectation in my process of perfection and the ultimate perfection of the world.

I am an intrinsic part of the cycle. My life and my teshuva are important and welcome; they are necessary and valuable.

I am not pitifully pleading for forgiveness, but acknowledging Hashem as my Beloved and crowning Hashem as King. I am doing my part.

This year I make teshuva with a new, improved attitude.  I am bringing the genuine love of my Beloved that is lavished upon me during this month of Elul to my Temple with me on Rosh Hashana in order to promote Tikun Olam. 

I am participating in the significant beginning of yet another year, yet another cycle in the rectification of the world.

And this year, with an expanded understanding of my own purpose and my relationship with my Beloved, I embrace the compassionate essence of Rosh Hashana  by joyfully participating in all three traditional expressions of  love and compassion:

Teshuva - it's our choice for personal bonding with God

Tefila - it's our job to pray for the tools to serve God

Tzedaka - it's our opportunity to give Charity or Justice

Join Rabbi Yossi Srugo, Rabbi Yakov Garfinkel and Rabbi Chai Amar in an eight-minute video reminder of these traditional Jewish observances of Rosh Hashana called Crowning the King.

Shana Tova & Happy Cycling!
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