Friday, September 21, 2007

Yom Kippur - A Time for Change

"The High Holidays are the best time of year for real, long-lasting change." Rabbi Mordechai Rottman

I try each year to explain a little about Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, the Day of Atonement. The day we ask forgiveness for our sins and pray our names are entered in The Book of Life for the coming year.

This Yom Kippur I pray for all to change what they can and to embrace God. To embrace Life. Especially because I want to be sure everyone I love will be entered--and remain safely--in Hashem's Book of Life.

Rabbi Rottman explains clearly what it means to change, and how. Here it is, slightly edited. The full version can be found in Four Steps to Change - High Holidays with Aish.

The Torah teaches us that it is never too late to change.

Changing for the better is called doing teshuva. The Hebrew word teshuva, which is often translated as repentance, actually means to "return." Return to God. Return to our pure self.

How do people become interested in self-improvement?

People have faults. The faults they have cause them to suffer in some way or another. This suffering limits an individual's freedom and is often painful. Hence, people want to change... to improve. To be free once again.

How does one change for the better? How does one do teshuva?

There are four steps of teshuva:

1. Regret. To regret what we have done wrong.
When we go against the will of God, the feeling we are supposed to have is regret. What a lost opportunity! We lost a piece of eternity!

2. Leaving the negativity behind. To stop dwelling on the transgression in thought and action.
"Leaving the negativity behind" means staying away from all of the paths that lead to that negativity. This includes crafting your environment to prevent temptation. And it means staying away from even mere thoughts, which can lead to the obvious next step -- action.

3. Verbalization. To verbally state the transgression.
The verbalization that is done after committing a transgression makes one more fully aware of what was done. It therefore heightens the regret and strengthens the resolution not to commit the act again.

4. Resolution for the future. To be determined not to let the transgression happen again.
Make a firm decision not to repeat the negative behavior. You're on your way to becoming the "new you!"
You don't have to be Jewish to benefit from that advice. I wish for my family and yours happiness, peace, prosperity and most of all good health this year and always.

Here's a more secular video for everyone: Sorry. An film

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