Monday, October 17, 2005

On Turning Around

I have several explanations (excuses?) to offer for this long hiatus. One is the start of the academic year. Another is preoccupation with holiday preparations, and the interference of the holidays themselves. A third is my recent activity on Kosher Blog.

Yet another reason for my failure to blog is that I've been trying to write about teshuva (repentence, or more literally, "turning back"), and that isn't easy. Everything I've come up with has either been too personal to post on the internet or too trite to be worth writing at all. Instead of blogging, I've scribbled in my dead -- I mean, paper -- journal, prayed (half-heartedly, as usual), whined, and cried a little. And I'm still not sure where I stand.

In addition to the holidays, a good deal of my energy lately has been focused on a weight-loss program, called, coincidentally, the "Turn-Around" plan. I've had moderate success in spite of this month's feasting and fasting (equally problematic, from a weight-loss perspective), and that has lead me to wonder whether I might be able to apply dieting principles to other areas of life, to overcome the various obstacles to the changes I'd like to make.

As difficult as weight loss can be, however, I've found that it isn't nearly as hard as teshuva, especially for someone who's approach to yiddishkeit isn't purely halakhic. Changes in my body are more easily quantified than changes in my soul (I use the term loosely). How can I measure improvements in my relationship with God and my relationships with others? I know they're not as healthy as they should be, but what can I do to change that? There's no simple formula, like "eat less, exercise more."

According to one tradition, beynonim, those whose actions in the preceding year tip the scales neither on the side of good nor on that of evil, have until Yom Kippur to earn a favorable verdict. Though the beynoni's sentence is "sealed" on Yom Kippur, it is finally "delivered" only on Hoshana Rabba, until which point the Almighty may still render it void. Since I never finish anything on time, I like to think of this tradition as offering me an "extension," a chance to make some of the changes I wanted to make by Yom Kippur but didn't. Most of these changes are somewhat amorphous and therefore difficult to implement, but at least I can spend one more week focusing my energy on making them happen. And, since we don't have a Sukkah in which to entertain guests, this time I won't be preoccupied with pot roast.

As a final note, I'd like offer my apologies to anyone I've hurt or offended, either in person or on the web. May we all earn a favorable verdict.

5 comments:

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Yalta said...

My teshuva-crisis for the year is figuring out why I feel guilty for some commissions of the same/comparable sin and not for outhers. FWIW, I am not only more confused than before, but also feel like dirt.

I really should call.

elf said...

Arknivet: Cool.

Yalta: Not cool. I guess you're supposed to feel like dirt (from dirt we come and to dirt we shall return), but not all the time. Anyway, we should talk. I miss you.

Rachel said...

Good to see you posting!

I wish I had easy answers on the teshuvah front. I don't, though some days I think it's the act of wrestling with the questions that matters most...

Yalta said...

I don't feel like dirt all the time. Probably couldn've chosen my words better. I'm uncertain as to why some things bother me more than others, and why the sins that do bother me do, and the sins that don't bother me don't.