KosherTorah School for Biblical, Judaic & Spiritual Studies

Successful Changes – How to Accomplish Real Repentance


by Ariel Bar Tzadok

Copyright © 2015 by Ariel Bar Tzadok. All rights reserved.


It is, namely, impossible to go suddenly from one extreme to the other: it is therefore according to the nature of man impossible for him suddenly to discontinue everything to which he has been accustomed.” (RaMBaM, Guide to the Perplexed, 3:32).


When it comes to Teshuva, returning to God, one must be practical, and realistic. While the emotionalism of the High Holiday period might make one want to take unrealistic steps in one's life, the advice of Maimonides is simple and straightforward. Take it easy! Take only one step at a time!


Too many people try to overdo their religious zeal. They make all kinds of decisions about how they want to be more religious, or to make other radical changes in life. We all know that too much of any good thing can change that good thing into something bad. Moderation is always the key to unlocking the doors of wisdom and success.


We all have habits and behaviors that we can do without. We all make mistakes, and the chances are that the majority of troubles that we each face in life are the results of choices that we have made. We can learn from our mistakes, and correct them.


In this time of contemplation, rather than seek to “build Rome in a day,” we should instead recognize where there is a problem, acknowledge it, and then, every day take one small step towards making that problem better. Do not overburden yourself. Take it easy. Be patient with yourself. God is patient with you, why shouldn't you be, as well?


Now, do not use taking “baby steps” as an excuse not to do enough of what needs to be done. Remember, God knows our innermost thoughts. God knows when we are lying to ourselves. Remember we can only lie to ourselves, and to others. We can never lie to God. God knows human nature. God knows when we are serious, and when we are insincere.


When we make a commitment to change, God knows! God wants us to succeed more that we do ourselves! This is why God is patient to work with us, and works with us little by little to heal a wound, and to mend that which is broken. God is the one who ordained nature to take its time to heal things. As human beings, we are part of nature, and therefore, subject to its laws. Natural laws are God's laws too, just like the laws of Torah. We take time to change, we take time to heal. God is OK with this, as long as we are committed to the course, and stay focused, one day at a time, to change.


Teshuva is not just for the High Holiday period. Teshuva is a 365, 24/7 opportunity. The gates of return to God never close. This time of year is most auspicious, but this time of year is not one's only opportunity. One can change at any time, even if one were to miss the most auspicious time to do it.


During this Holiday period, trying doing this one small thing. When you go to sleep at night, try thinking about what it is that you need to change in your life. Think about how you can realistically bring about change. Fall asleep with a prayer on your lips, or in your heart, asking God's guidance, and help. There is no need to ask God for strength, for strength is something God has already given us. All we need to do is claim it, a little bit each day.


Upon awakening in the morning, before getting out of bed, take a moment, clear your thoughts, and again pray, asking God to show you how this day, you can best serve Him, and how you can be the best that you can be. Trust God that He hears your prayers, and will definitely answer them. Watch for opportunities.


I pray that this message is simple, and straightforward enough. There is no magic or mysticism to Teshuva, and sincere change. There is only hard work. But all the hard work does not have to be done all at once. Break it down into small and easy to manage steps, and as long as you are sincere, God will be equally sincere to forgive you your shortcomings, and to bless you with a happy, healthy, prosperous and safe New Year. This too is my prayer for you.


God's blessings! May we all be inscribed in God's Book of Life. May we all have a great year. May we all be here this time next year, and look back at the successful changes that we have made, and be thankful for the good that God gives us.


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