A 2020 Vision for Communal Teshuva

The High Holiday season is a time for teshuva and reflection, to consider where we are and where we ought to be. And while we may be accustomed to understanding the teshuva process as an individual experience, there certainly is room for us to engage in teshuva as a community, particularly this year.

But do we have the strength for that kind of reflection? The pandemic has us all struggling to get by. It would seem like overreach to consider aspirational goals when we face fundamental challenges in areas such as health, employment, daycare, education and anti-Semitism.

Perhaps, however, teshuva does not always need to be exhausting. It may not even involve discomfort and a drive to change but may come instead in the form of a revelation, a refreshing discovery of something that was always there but often overlooked. Indeed, the Maharal of Prague taught that the term “teshuva” is chosen because it implies a return to our purer origins. Rather than adding responsibilities, teshuva restores perspective, bringing us back to a place that is natural, comfortable and healing.

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The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.