What is Teshuva?
The cry of “Elul” used to send shivers down the spines of the pious. Not any more! That cry seems no longer relevant. The world that has lost its reverence for authority, has rejected the community in favor of the individual and has elevated the ego to being an ideal through the notion of self actualization and personal transformation. If we do relate to Elul, we look upon it as a training program that will help us up our game so we score big time on Rosh Hashana. What a distorted (perverted?) view of this powerful period of the year.
No, Elul is not a warm up for the Yamim Noraim marathon! Elul is a time to let go of our fragile selves, not to cling onto to them, under the guise of self improvement. The subtle goal is to dance upon the tightrope of accepting responsibility for all that I have done and relinquishing control over my life. Every bad decision that I made I accept culpability yet every situation that I found myself was perfectly orchestrated by Hashem.
In Elul we become aware of how we are essentially powerless. In doing so we discover the only real power we have, to let Hashem into our lives. What does it all mean? Well, it works like this; I am lazy, angry and selfish and as hard as I try, I remain lazy, angry and selfish. And those traits drive me to all kinds of dodgy stuff, far from what Hashem wants from me. So what do I do? I admit that I can’t do it by myself, I admit that the problem is all mine, I am the only one responsible, and still, I admit can’t do it by myself. Then I feel compelled to cry out for help. And that sincere cry is the catalyst to letting go and yet owning the responsibility I have to live a life of greatness.
Let go, hang on and welcome Hashem into your world.