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Vayelech: Can People Really Change?

Do you believe people can really change? Have you ever tried to rid yourself of a character flaw? Do you think that you fully appreciate your weaknesses? The High Holidays are upon us. They come and go each year. We try to anticipate a New Year which will engender a fresh start in our lives. However, immediately afterwards, reality returns in all its glory. We seem to revert back to our original state. One of the most intriguing Chassidic sages, Reb Zusha of Anipoli (1718-1800) gave precious insight on the subject of inner transformation. He made this simple by providing a five part meditation series. Each theme is based on a biblical verse corresponding to a letter of which the word Teshuvah is comprised. 1. Sincerity: In order to change, we must first be honest. We must do our best to align the way we feel with the way we behave. Be straight. Speak your truth. Don’t mislead anyone. Not even yourself. 

2. Accountability: Everything you say or do whether to your friend or a stranger is carefully watched. Do good and the consequences will eternally work in your favor. Do bad, it will be difficult to extricate yourself from its impact. 

3. Play Fair: Treat others in the same way you wish to be treated. Both man and G-d. As the saying goes, “What goes around comes around”. Both the good stuff and the bad stuff. This is the reality. There’s no escaping it. 

4. Constant Opportunity: “Coincidence is G-ds way of remaining anonymous.” Each situation in which you find yourself is created by G-d just for you. Your challenge is to discover the unique opportunity embedded within it. Your reward is bringing mankind one step closer to fulfilling its purpose. 

5. Be Discreet: Be true to yourself. Don’t live your life to impress others. (Especially those who themselves are trying to impress others). Do what you believe is right. Not for anyone, nor for any ulterior motives. Only because this is truly who you are. Can we change? Yes we can. For in truth we are not trying to become something we are not. We are only attempting to rediscover our true selves. This might not be easy, but it is simple!

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