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Turn, Turn, Turn

Updated: Mar 22, 2023

The Byrds made King Solomon’s words famous in the modern era. In Kohelet, also known as the Book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon wrote, “Everything has its season, and there is a time for everything under heaven…”[1] We are now in what is called the “Aseres Yemei Teshuvah,” “The Ten Days of Teshuvah,” which began on Rosh Hashanah and end on Yom Kippur. These days are “a time to plant” the seeds of who we want to be and what we want to achieve in the next year. They are a time “when He [G-d] may be found… the time of His ultimate closeness.”[2]

G-d is going to seal our judgment on Yom Kippur, but He gave us the days in between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as a gift to do teshuvah, repentance, which really means returning to your true self, which is a G-dly soul. This may seem overwhelming given everything we feel we have done wrong or want to do better, but teshuvah, at its most basic level, just requires turning around and beginning to walk in the right direction.

Imagine we are in Los Angeles and want to go to San Francisco. We get in the car and after two hours of driving, we see signs for San Diego, which is south of Los Angeles, the complete opposite direction from San Francisco! We pull over, get directions, and get back on the highway going north this time. Are we further or closer to San Francisco now or when we first left Los Angeles? You may want to say further, but really we are actually closer to San Fransisco because we are now going in the right direction. It is the same with teshuvah: we may be far from where we want to be, but as long as we turn around and face the right direction, we are actually closer than we were before.[3]

Practical Suggestion: Before Yom Kippur, make a plan of how you want to change in the next year. Then, choose one small, realistic action to take on during the next year and start doing it now. (This is your turning around!) For instance, I hope to do a ten-minute meditation six days a week to develop mindfulness, but I am going to take on a smaller goal of meditating once a week.

[1] Kohelet/Ecclesiastes 3:1

[2] Rabbi S. Binyomin Ginsberg, Gems From the Nesivos Sholom, p. 203-205 (based on the Kuf Lamed Tet/Kuf Mem Gimel of the second volume of the Nesivos Sholom)

[3] Rabbi Goldberg, Yeshiva Ohr Eliyahu in Los Angeles, CA.

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