There always seems to be a ‘best’ time for everything. We wait for a great sale before making a big purchase, we wait for airfares to drop before booking a trip, or we wait for the rain to stop before leaving the house to run errands. We seem to love waiting; it gives us a sense that good things are on the horizon. Of course, all this waiting isn’t actually getting us anywhere. We can take action in our lives to spark transformation at any time. However, windows open up throughout the kabbalistic year in which we can receive an extra dose of Light to help us make the positive changes in our lives we’ve been longing for. One of the most powerful times for such reflection and transformation is Rosh Hashanah.
Like the secular New Year, the kabbalistic New Year invites us to take a step towards a fresh start. The key difference is that during Rosh Hashanah we can literally erase negativity from our past instead of simply letting it go and resolving for a more positive future.
The Zohar teaches that each coming year is laid out according to our past. Negative actions or words can set the course of events in our future. We can simply accept the consequences or embrace a kabbalistic process by which to eliminate negativity and ensure a more joyful and fulfilling year to come.
Kabbalists call this process teshuvah, and it is often practiced during the weeks leading up to Rosh Hashanah and the ten days that follow. Many interpret teshuvah to mean “repentance.” But a more accurate translation is “to return,” as in to return to the original state. It is an opportunity not only to return to a pure state, but also to recreate the self.
Rav Berg refers to this process as going “back to the future.” He explains,
“Every action, whether positive or negative, creates a comparable energy force as a result of a corresponding consciousness. If our consciousness establishes something of a negative character, then it must be eliminated. Otherwise, this negative force becomes part of our future software, which dictates and affects our daily lives. The insertion of violations into the routine of our lives will inevitably result in a life of pain and suffering. However, we are capable of erasing these flaws, and vaporizing their very existence so as not to leave any trace of their presence, then our future cassette will become one free from chaos and disorder.”
We can go back to the past in order to change the future. How do we do this? Well, kabbalists suggest we approach someone very close to us—a trusted friend, colleague, or partner and ask humbly, “What do I need to change?” Remain open to this feedback and be willing to make those changes. There is no better moment in time than now.
There are three different stages in the process of teshuvah: feeling regret, deciding to change one’s ways, and then vocalizing the transgression. All components are equally important to the process, though we often linger in the first step longer than we should, ignoring the situation or making excuses to justify our actions. Responsibility means owning up to our negative actions or habits and recognizing how destructive they are. When remorse and the need to start fresh overpower the need to ignore our faults, it’s time for the next step—resolution.
The most powerful step we’ll ever take is the step towards change. When we do, it is necessary to vocalize this intention. This sometimes comes in the form of an apology to someone we’ve wronged. But it can also be done by sharing a resolution with a friend. Either way, there is power in the spoken word. By letting someone in on the steps we want to take towards change, we make ourselves accountable to others and are, therefore, less likely to pick up old habits again.
“To achieve the outcome of our well-wishers on Rosh Hashanah,” says Rav Berg, “we have no choice but to become knowledgeable of the software which can ensure the coming year is filled with the beneficence of the Lightforce, filled with certainty and order in our life's journey. No longer are we to accept the familiar expressions of our lives in terms of ‘lucky’ or ‘unlucky.’ We have the obligation and responsibility to make every effort to commit our consciousness to one of sharing. This task is for all people alike.”
If you’ve been postponing change in your life, the moment you’ve been waiting for is upon us. Although, awareness of one’s flaws and negative habits is a continuous effort throughout the year, we have an incredible opportunity to erase our past shortcomings and transgressions through the process of teshuvah to secure a more positive year ahead full of blessings and joy.