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Teshuva & Rosh Hashanah

Teshuva, one of the three primary tenets of Rosh Hashanah (along with tzedakah - charity- and tefillah - prayer), is – like many Hebrew words – difficult to adequately translate into English. Teshuva is commonly associated with repentance, a High Holiday action where we seek forgiveness from G-d and from those who we have wronged throughout the year. Teshuva translates to “return”.

Spend some time considering what you are returning to.
What is it you are returning from?
If your visits to synagogue occur only during the High Holidays, what is it that draws you to the
service?
In what ways have you allowed daily life to “take you away”, and in what ways do you want and
need to “return”?
Are you ready to approach G-d?

During the month of Elul and the Ten Days of Awe, we spend a lot of time in prayer, contemplation, and examination. We spend countless moments taking account of our actions over the past year, and we identify ways in which we’d like to improve our lives.

In what areas of your life have you improved in the last year?
What areas of your life could use some tweaking?
What parts of your Jewish practice are ready for uplift?
What are the things that rise up to inhibit your success and what are your plans for dealing with
those roadblocks?


The Hebrew word for sin is chet which literally means “missed the target”. When we atone for our sins, we are recognizing that we were off track. In Judaism, to sin is to be human. We are all imperfect beings, and we do not always “make our mark”. Rosh Hashanah is a specific time of year to repent for our wrongdoings.

In what instances over the past year have you missed the mark?
To whom do you need to extend your apologies?
What practices can you establish to avoid this chet in the future?
Write a letter about your worthiness and why you require another year of life.
How will you transform these judgments on yourself into opportunity?

The High Holiday season is our time to look deep within and to set (or reset) a conscious agenda for the coming year. Dip your apple in the honey for hopes of a sweet year. Pound your chest during Confession and knock out those sins. Look around the table when you are gathered with family and friends grateful for another year to appreciate, celebrate, and – even – irritate each other.

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