Wednesday, August 18, 2010

TESHUBA: Admitting that we don’t know…

Today is the 8th day of Elul, 5770

Hakarat haChet, acknowledging our mistakes, is the first step of the process of Teshuba (repentance and change).

One of the reasons admitting our mistakes becomes so challenging is because we usually act as our own judges… and we don't know any better!

Let me offer you a personal illustration:

I've been writing the Halakha of the Day for a few months. English is my third language. My English grammar skills are not that strong. While writing I make many mistakes, but I'm not aware of most of them. Once I wrote “If you're seating...” instead of "sitting”... Before I send the group email I always check the spelling. Nothing was wrong! I read it a second and a third time. Everything looked fine 'to me'… The truth is that I had no chance to correct myself because I didn’t know the difference between writing ‘seating’ and ‘sitting’! My ignorance –voluntary ignorance to certain extent- prevented any improvement in my actions!

So, what is the solution?

Improve your ‘knowledge’! Learning more English will help me to be more perceptive and will empower me to detect future mistakes.

The same is true with Judaism. I want to do Teshuba. I want to become a better Jew. Then, first: I’ve to learn more about Judaism. Otherwise it's a catch 22: I think I know and I don’t know any better, how am I supposed to improve myself?

Learning Torah is a prerequisite to detect our flaws and improve ourselves.