Guest Author - Lisa Pinkus
If you adhere to the laws of karma, you may want to pay special attention to your actions during the Days of Awe. The Days of Awe are the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
On Rosh Hashanah, it is said that our fates for the following year are written, but it is not until ten days later – on Yom Kippur that they are sealed (made permanent). The Days of Awe bring the possibility to alter the fate that we have been decreed. The catalysts to ensuring our future are Teshuva (repentance), Tefilah (prayer) and Tzedakah (“charity”).
Teshuva is feeling the pain from your past mistakes, experiencing regret over some of the choices you’ve made, and the true desire to change in the year to come. With Teshuva, we are absolved from the mistakes we’ve made.
Each year, before Rosh Hashanah, I give myself a harsh evaluation. I relive a moment – about five years ago – that was a “bad mommy moment”. If you are like me, you probably repent every night before you go to sleep, contemplating your day with your children and identifying all of the mistakes you made. Rosh Hashanah is the culmination of all those nightly assessments, and a mother (or any individual, for that matter) can end up feeling pretty rotten.
With time, I learned that the act of assessment should be a positive experience. Teshuva – often translated as repentance – actually means “to return”. We return to G-d. We return to the path where we model the values we want our children to acquire, where we live our lives with greater purpose, where we strive to be a better human being than we were the year before, and where we release the mistakes we felt we’ve made.
Tefilah or the thought of prayer may make some people uncomfortable, but I’m certain that most of us have issued pleas of help out into the great, wide open. “Please let me be pregnant this month”. “Please let my husband arrive safely to his destination.” “Please let this flu pass quickly.”
Prayer is an instrument for growth. It is meant to bring us closer to G-d. It allows us to stay connected to expressions of gratitude. It offers a “shoulder to lean on” during difficult times. Prayer can also be a quiet moment in an otherwise busy day and with the world we live in today, we can all use a quiet moment.
Tzedakah can apply to giving charity or performing mitzvot, both of which are important during the Days of Awe. We have ten days to be on our best behavior – to speak to our children and spouses without raising our voices, to ensuring that our actions reflect kindness, and to do our part in the face of tikkun olam (repairing the world).
In these ten days, we can lure good karma to stay with us throughout the year. It is challenging to hold ourselves together every moment of the year, but these – the Days of Awe - are the moments that truly count.