The month of Elul, the month preceding Rosh haShanah is a good moment for taking time out to contemplate the last year…. or to look at our lives as a whole. Its a moment when quietly we can be truthful with ourselves and see which of our thoughts, actions and words were in line with our own highest values, and where to be frank we let ourselves down.
Thoughts of our own slip-ups are painful and sorrowful and our most likely response is to push them away. A different, more healthy response that will bring us into a more aware consciousnesses, is the message of the shofar.
The Zohar teaches us that the sound of the shofar is the voice of compassion, the voice of loving-kindness. It awakens us to Teshuvah, because the ultimate source of our unhappiness and of our mistakes is our disconnection from our Source. But words that were said, can’t be unsaid, and actions that were taken. now exist. So what can we do to mend things?
Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, in his great work, Mesillat Yesharim, (The path of the righteous) writes:
“ Teshuvah, (Repentance) is given to people with absolute loving-kindness so that the rooting out of the will which prompted the deed is considered a rooting out of the deed itself.”
This loving-kindness manifests in the sound of the shofar. The voice of the shofar opens the opportunity to make good , to undo , to come back fresh…. and to a new start.
This is the miracle of Teshuvah: Teshuvah is returning home. It is returning to our Source. Before the world was created Teshuvah was created. Before Man came into being, the possibility of return was built into the whole scheme of things. The call of the shofar, is the call of compassion, of mercy and of bringing us back home.
May we all be blessed with a sweet and happy New Year.
This Torah podcast is dedicated l’ilui nishmat Chana Annette bat Mazal and Moshe
This talk is based on excerpts from Rabbi Ashlag’s Perush haSulam on Zohar Vayerah 381 and Zohar TeZaveh 88-92
Further talks on Elul, Teshuvah and Rosh hashanah