As we continue the work of T’Shuvah, I want to focus for a moment on really “getting clean.” Atonement is getting rid of the outer impurity/negativity. Taharah, “getting clean”, is the process of ridding ourselves of the inner impurity. Without “getting clean” we keep the inner contamination that impairs our Spiritual Integrity. Anything that impairs our Spiritual Integrity will lead us back to old behaviors and paths of negativity.
We have to break the patterns of negativity. Neuroscience calls this, “making new neural pathways in the brain” that will change our thinking and behaving. Our tradition teaches us to act our way into right thinking. We are not bound by our first thoughts and impulses. We have choice; many of us who continue to RE-ACT in old ways are denying our humanity and our basic goodness of being that we were born/created with.
To change, we have to put detours up, burn old bridges and leave the neighborhoods of Het/missing the mark that we have travelled and lived in. Our daily prayer book has in it a prayer Y’Hi RaTzon after the morning blessings. This prayer reminds us to sublimate our Yetzers/inclinations, both Divine and earthly, to God’s Will, even if we have to stay away from an “evil friend”.
We can make these changes when we do the inventory that T’Shuvah demands of us. Continuing the path of T’Shuvah using the Ashamnu Prayer we look at Misappropriations. This is an important concept that we use and misuse often. The questions, using the four-column format, are:
1) How have I missed the mark by misappropriation of trust
2) How have I given too much and/or too little trust to myself and others
3) How have I missed the mark by misappropriation of money
4) How have I spent too much and/or too little, how have I given too much Tzedakah or too little
5) How have I missed the mark by misappropriation of energy?
6) How have I expended too much energy or too little energy? How have I expended energy on the wrong things?
Remembering that we have to see the whole picture:
1) How have I “hit the mark” by appropriating the proper trust in myself and others?
2) How have I learned what I know and what I don’t?
3) How have I hit the mark by appropriating the proper amount of money to the right things for my well-being and the well-being of others?
4) How have I lived with and in abundance while doing Tzedakah in proper measure?
5) How have I hit the mark by appropriating the proper amount of energy to the different areas of my life?
6) How have I given the proper measure of my energies to family, work, God, self and others?
This month is when we traditionally do our inventories of the past year. We set up a balance sheet, listing the things we have done well and the areas where we have “missed” the mark. Each day I am going to write a way to do our personal inventory. We will count down to being clean and ready for Yom Kippur with joy and excitement to re-commit to our relationship with God, our community and ourselves. Please join me here, on the Beit T’Shuvah Blog, for this daily teaching.
Also this year I would like to base my High Holiday Sermon on feedback from you, the community. I’ll be looking for feedback on “How and what does Tzedakah and Torah come to teach us?
For responses and feedback please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org