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Shabbat Shuvah: Can We Change?

Do you believe people can really change? Have you ever attempted to get rid of a character flaw? Do you think you fully comprehend your shortcomings?

The High Holidays are upon us. Each year, they come and go. Our goal is to anticipate a New Year that will bring a fresh start to our lives. However, immediately afterwards, reality returns in all its glory. We seem to revert back to our original state.

Reb Zusha of Anipoli (1718-1800), one of the most intriguing Chassidic sages, imparted valuable insight on the topic of inner transformation. He made this easy by offering a five-part meditation series.

Each theme is based on a biblical verse that corresponds to a letter in the word Teshuvah.

1. Sincerity: In order to change, we need to be honest and 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: You are held accountable for everything you say or do, whether it's for a friend or a stranger. Do good and the consequences will always 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 would like 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. Opportunity: “Coincidence is G-d's 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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