Posted on Sep 10, 2021 | 0 comments


In our earlier exploration of the meaning of teshuvah (see Elul 18), we defined teshuvah as having two levels—repentance and return:

Repentance means regretting a wrongful action, resolving not to repeat it, asking forgiveness, making amends.

Return means coming back to one’s soul, one’s Divine essence, to one’s source in G-d.

The first level—which is what we should have been working on during the month of Elul—is only the means to achieve the second, which is our focus now, during the Ten Days of Teshuvah.

During these special days, we should be working to return to the quintessential self that we really are. Teshuvah (which literally means “return”) implies that there is a part of us that is always healthy and good and pure, as we say in the morning prayer, “The soul that You gave me is pure…” And no matter what damage had been done to us in life—to our sense of self, to our personal dignity—no matter what damage we ourselves have done, we can always return to the soul that remains undamaged, intact, pure.

The great 16th century Kabbalist Rabbi Moshe Cordevero of Safed, better known as Ramak, suggests that the best way to return to our pure essence is to isolate ourselves for a period of time each day during the Ten Days of Teshuvah in order to meditate on the Ten Sefirot, which he calls the “Gates of Teshuvah.”  In this way it is possible to enter a different “gate” each day, thereby connecting the soul with its root in a given sefirah, each of which serves as a channel for Divine energy into creation and, of course into the soul.

Ask yourself:

How much do you want to connect with the purest, holiest part of yourself?  Are you willing to invest the effort and the time to make this possible?

Exercise for the day:

Meditate today on the sefirah of (“endurance”). In doing so, assess your level of endurance and your ambition. Is it being used for the proper things?

Excerpt from 60 Days: A Spiritual Guide to the High Holidays, by Simon Jacobson. ©Copyright The Meaningful Life Center, 2014. All rights reserved.

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