Elul is Here!
R’ Nachman teaches that the worst possible thing to do when one has sinned is to feel bad about it. There’s no doubt that “pangs of repentance” are a must; a very real and necessary aspect of tshuva, but the first thing one must do when he has done something negative in word or in deed is get back up and feel good about himself. We need to rise above the “petty” of the world, beyond those who ignore and look down on us.
Each individual-Jew or Gentile is a world unto himself. Each individual is an entire reality in his own right. We were all created in G-d’s image and we must hold on to this truth every moment of our lives.
I re-read a part of Pirkei Avot, “Wisdom of the Fathers,” that speaks to me perhaps more than any of its other chapters (and Pirkei Avot is one of those works that has had a profound effect on my life): “Know where you came from and where you’re going…,” it begins. It goes on to state that we come from a “wet spot,” return to “dust and ashes,” and answer “to the King of Kings, Ruler of the universe.” This is extremely important to internalize if we’re to understand R’ Nachman’s wisdom.
Elus is here. We need to reason with ourselves and try and delve into what where we’ve gone wrong this year. What can we do that we haven’t previously done? How can we become better people?
This process begins with the things we can change: interpersonal relations. We need to seek ways of asking for those whom we’ve hurt to forgive us, and to come get to know those who are integral parts of lives: our relatives and friends better. We need to make lists of things we want to improve on for the following year. Here’s my list:
1. Guard what I do and say.
2. Avoid hurting other people at all costs.
3. Improve my Torah observance.
4. Avoid humiliating myself: this is also a type of “lashon ha’ra.”
5. Try to get up early in the morning and go to sleep late at night, putting on the tefilin and saying the “Tikkun Hatzot” on time.
6. Improve my “kibud av va’em:” respect for my father and mother.
7. Make a list of sins I’ve committed and the sacrifices I will need to bring for these once the Temple is rebuilt.
8. Visit the Temple Mt. more often while trying to desist from getting into political arguments, especially with fellow Jews. This can prove not only pointless, but worse, take away from my achievements.