Shalom, Heschel community. We are so glad to all be back in school, ready for a Shanah Tovah Umetukah—a new, good, sweet, year.
The days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as Aseret Yemei Teshuvah (Ten Days of Teshuvah). This is a time of reflection and returning. The concept of chet (sin) in Jewish tradition is related to an archery term which means to “miss the mark.” During Aseret Yemei Teshuvah, we consider the ways we “missed the mark” in the past year; we consider how, despite our best intentions, we sometimes hurt others’ feelings through our words and deeds.
During Aseret Yemei Teshuvah, we seek forgiveness from those whom we have hurt, and consider how to “return” and take aim again. During Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services, we chant:
ה’, ה’ אל רחום וחנון ארך אפים רב חסד ואמת
The phrase refers to God as אל רחום—a God who feels womb-full, like a parent, who is חנון (generous), ארך אפים (patient), and רב חסד (full of kindness and truth). When we chant these words, we ask that, despite our mistakes, we be treated with love, generosity, patience, and kindness. As we ask this for ourselves, we are reminded to treat others who have made mistakes in the same way. During these ten important days, may we each experience and offer love, generosity, patience, and kindness, as together we travel the path of Teshuvah.
Shabbat Shalom Vegemar Chatimah Tovah—may you be sealed for a good year,