Reflections During Elul: Teshuva

In this final Elul reflection, we arrive at the topic of teshuvah.  The word is colloquially translated as “apology” but it is closer to “return” as in returning to proper actions.  However you translate it, teshuva is not easy.

A casual sorry and teshuva are not equivalent.  While a creek and an aquifer are both bodies of water, one is a trickle on the surface while the other is deep and voluminous.  Teshuva is sincere, introspective and authentic.

We all have relationships that require teshuva.  For some relationships, seeking teshuva will help the other person heal.  Simultaneously, by mustering humility within ourselves, we can help heal ourselves too.

As you reflect on these two texts below, one traditional Jewish source and one modern poem, decide what you need to do to repair a fractured relationship.  Resolve to take action and to seek teshuva.  Also, be prepared for those who may approach you.  Sit together and describe the reverberations from the hurt.  Listen to each other.  Let yourself be moved by the other.

I hope these reflections have helped you prepare for a meaningful High Holiday season.  Throughout the year, I will periodically share my reflections via email as well as through sermons, articles and classes.

Question #4: Why haven’t you said sorry (done teshuva) yet?

Text 1 –  Rambam, Mishna Torah, Laws of Teshuvah 2:9

Teshuvah and Yom Kippur only atone for wrongs between people and God; for example, a person who ate a forbidden food or engaged in forbidden intimacy and the like.  However, sins between people; for example, someone who injures a colleague, curses a colleague, steals from him, or the like will never be forgiven until he gives his colleague what he owes him and appeases him.

(Underline added for you to think about what these specific phrases mean and are there limits)

Text 2 – “Art of Apology” by Maria Sudibyo

From the bottom heart, or just a formal duty
By throwing pride, or only saving the face
Being sincere, or hidden manipulation
Would you hear my apology?

Over small thing, over crucial matter
Over self guilty, over other’s fault
Over inflicted wound, over inconsiderate spoken
Is there a room for apology?

With stammered words, with well chosen speech
With a bouquet of flower, with make up kisses
With so much question, with deniable secret
Could it come an apology?

Will tears flow or bottle a storm?
Will it amend or become a routine cycle?
Will it be given or bring another reason?
Is it too late for apology?