Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Forgiveness and Elul Book keeping

It is the month of Elul and many changes take place. It is a month of accounting for all of us. Coming up to Rosh Hashannah we reflect on the year past and try to eradicate the faults and aveirot that we have fallen into through out the year. We need to balance the books. we need to tidy up. Halfway through the year we have Pesach which is about a yearly spiritual spring clean. It is a time of liberation. By contrast, Rosh Hashannah is reconnecting to our Master and Creator of All. It is called the Yom Norim, days of fear and awe. We confront ourselves however hard that may be.We go through the books and tidy them up.
We look at the blessings that we have in our lives despite what aveirot we have committed and how we have done things that were not in keeping with kedusha and we we fall on the floor before our Master and beg for forgiveness and to reconnect with Him.
The nations have a very different view of New Year. They often herald it with wild revelry and act in very licentious ways, uncontrolled and destructive acts are treated as good fun. I remember when I was taxi driving many years ago. I refused to drive on that night past a certain time because of the way people behaved on the last night of the old Gregorian calender year. Taxi drivers who drove into the city did so at their own risk and chanced having their cabs turned on their roofs with resulting damage to property and their livelihood. Young girls get drunk and seduced by youths or men acting in uncontrolled and savage ways. People are abused and treated shabbily because it is "New Year."  Happy New Year all! One wonders what could be happy about such a destructive and ugly way to celebrate a new year in such a way.

By contrast, the Jewish New Year is very different. It is a serious time of reflection, deep soul searching and we need to reach into ourselves and to look at how we have spent the year past. What did we do that was good and what was not good and how could we make this better?  Have we been honest or have we cheated people both emotionally, physically and financially? We need to book keep and be honest in our dealings with ourselves and others.
The Jewish New Year is all about constructing and building. Yes, there is some inner renovating to do. We do have to subjugate ourselves and make amends. Kill our pride and arrogance and own up to our habits and try to destroy them and replace them with good traits. By the same token it is not good to be totally without some self esteem or self confidence. One needs to be balanced and that is what the Yom Norim are about balance. Rosh Hashannah is the head of the year, and the beginning of a new year in our service to the King of Kings.

As we balance the books with our year and our Creator, we realise what we need to come up with and more what we need to do in order to be balanced in our life towards others and our King. We need trust in Hashem that we will be helped to do what we need to do to make our life better and to be better people. On Yom Kippur when we are finally sealed for a good year, there is still a window of opportunity until Hoshanna Rabba. Hashem so loves us that we are given another chance to make amends. We have to try not to blow our chances. We are human however and we err. Hashem knows that and also knows when we try to take advantage of the fact that we are mere human beings. We can always strive to do better. That is the beauty of it all.
Life is a learning curve of deep proportions.I often feel like a sailor on the ocean in a small craft naivgating these big shipping channels and the open seas. We deal with the elements and also the other ships when we come across them. We interact and so many factors come into play. It is good to have Torah as our GPS. The trouble with a GPS though is that you must learn to use it correctly otherwise it is useless to you. You must take the time to study the instructions and to follow them correctly. Often you have to reread them and relearn how to do things. That is life. Constant and unrelenting revision. You can be creative and learn new ways or methods of teaching and doing the same thing, but be sure that the things you are doing are the right things for your sake and the sake of others.
Go hear the shofar and really listen to it.

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