When we take on a new project, we often find a ‘to-do’ list essential to help us navigate our way through all the tasks involved. We may know, at an intellectual level, that Elul is a month to begin the process of ‘Teshuvah’ – of returning to a centered and God-guided life, but what does this actually entail? Our Director of Education, Ira Wise, shares the age-old ‘to-do’ list of Saadia Gaon as one answer to this question:
Saadia Gaon, a 10th century commentator and leader of the Jews of Babylonia, said that there are four things we must do in order to do successfully do T'shuvah either with God or humans:
1) We must confess our cheyt (the Hebrew word for sin, which means “missing the mark”), admit that we have missed the mark;
2) We must actually feel remorse for what we have done or failed to do. This is call t'shuvah shebalev –repentance of the heart;
3) We must ask for forgiveness and repair the damage we have caused; and
4) We must accept the responsibility never to repeat the cheyt.
As we do our cheshbon hanefesh (accounting of the soul, thinking about how we have missed the mark), ask yourself “Am I ready for these four steps? What do I have to do to get ready? Who do I need to approach before the Days of Awe come to an end?