Honorable Mensch-ion

Spiritual Biography

The Talmud debates who is greater: the tzaddik gammur, the fully righteous person, or the ba’al teshuva, the master of return.

At the crux of the argument is the definition of teshuva, repentance. Rav Kook teaches that teshuva is considered a gift from God, an opportunity to rewrite our spiritual biography. If the ability to undo sin is simply a gift, then is the human being’s role diminished in the process?

As we are fully aware, none of us are fully righteous. We all fall in the “in between” spaces where we need God’s gift of compassion. Yet, God’s gift alone does not get us to the place we need to be. The process also requires our the input of our full selves; our hearts, our souls, our minds, and our bodies.

We have arrived at Shabbat Shuvah, the Shabbat in between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. It is another “in between” space.

It is a time to embrace the gift of teshuva, and it is a time to propel ourselves to take the introspection we started last week into the year ahead.

As the gates close and we begin Neila, we will change the words of our liturgy, from kotveinu, written, to chatmeinu, sealed. May the year ahead be one in which we as individuals use each other as a sacred community to partner with the Holy One for a year sealed with the precious moments of life.

G’mar Chatima Tova

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