Day One. I said I wouldn’t write for every day of Cheshbon Hanafesh but Day 1 of ANYTHING you have committed to do is going to be an intense day. Day 1 is a day worth sharing. Today I read to basically accept that there have been wrong doings. That the first step in teshuvah is to acknowledge that a wrong has been committed. We make mistakes, we are humans. But we are humans with Gd’s love and light. So we start to recognize what wrong doings we have done and to whom. It’s funny because at first, it is so easy to think “I’ve actually been pretty good this past year” “Can’t think of much I’ve done wrong”… And then, as I drove to work in silence, I could not stop listing things in my head. The list seemed to go on forever. I was floored as I pulled into the parking structure at work by how much I had gathered during that short commute. Actions of mine that I was not pleased with ran through my mind. My heart was so heavy, I just wanted to fall to the ground and cry. I didn’t. I pulled it together and went in to work. Throughout the day, no matter how much I distracted my mind with phone calls, emails, and paperwork, as soon as I’d stop down for a moment, my mind returned to my morning’s thoughts.
Then after a long day of work and a fancy corporate dinner party I was invited to, I drove home listening to Matisyahu’s “Youth” album which I haven’t listened to in ages. This album is filled with so much pure expression of that fresh, inspiring feeling of finding Gd and Torah that I was uplifted even though my heart was so heavy. See, Baal Teshuvah were not blessed with being born into a life full of inspiring Torah; a life where there is Faith in people and in the greater essence; with a solid foundation in the belief that there is so much space in our souls for Love. Some of us were not raised this way. Some of us find it later in life as adults and seek out G-d. Some of us struggle in a secular world to have more Faith and try to surround ourselves with similar vibes and sometimes even sing about it. So the appreciation of what we are discovering is at a different level. It is something that sometimes seems so clear to me I feel I can reach out and touch it; but find myself sounding crazy as I try and explain in words.
To come back every year and face yourself is a tradition we have been blessed with.
TESHUVAH- (copied from Chabad.org)
Commonly translated as “repentance,” teshuvah literally means “return.”Teshuvah is the soul’s capacity is return to its original state, to its pristine core. As we pass through life, we are invariably coarsened and sullied by our errors and misjudgments, or simply by the travails of physical life; but our innermost self, the “veritable part of G‑d” that is the essence of our soul — remains untouched. Teshuvah is the G‑d-given ability to access and reconnect to that untouched self, reestablish our lives upon its foundation, and even redefine a negative past in its purifying light.
I now lay down to sleep with a heart not so heavy, but a heart so inspired it finds the strength to make space. Let the inspiration fuel my strength.