Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Taking time out to think

I have had some time over the past week to listen to some more classes about Yom Kippur and Teshuva in general. I found them helpful, but I am starting to realize that rather than keep listening to more and more classes, I should just take some time to reflect and make goals.
I think I mentioned this idea in my Rosh Hashana post- unfortunately, I have yet to do that. I was talking to my mom, and she told me that she went on her yearly trip to a tzaddik's gravesite in Germany with her friends (story for another time) this week. They spent  about two hours there, just praying and thinking. She said it was very powerful to have time out to just think without any phone or other distractions.
While I am not about to go flying off to Germany, I am hoping to take some time and recreate those conditions. No laptop, no phone, just me and a notebook.
Some questions to ponder:
- What are some accomplishments and things I am proud of this year? What actions am I not as proud of ?
- What are some small and concrete changes I can make that are conducive to growth?
- What are my spiritual goals for the year?
- What are some improvements that need to be made in the realm of relationships- spouse, children, family, etc
I am sure there are more, but it seems like this is a good start.
What I have been pondering in my spare time is R Soloveichik's essay on Tahara and Kapara. It is one of my favorite ideas about teshuva and one that I return to (no pun intended) every year. He writes that sin actually affects our essence and even once we achieve "kappara", atonement for what we have done, there is still a deeper level of teshuva that we need to do. The teshuva of tahara is about repairing our relationship with G'd and trying to undo the negative spiritual effect our actions have had on us. This is a very deep idea and not easy at all. I truly believe, though, that if  we really want to change, it has to be beyond the level of action, but rather at the level of pursuing a real relationship with G'd, whatever that may mean to us.
Okay, getting off my soapbox now. This was actually really helpful in clarifying things for myself. I hope it sparked some thoughts for you as well. Gmar Chasima Tova

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