Moment of Reflection - 4th August 2013 - Rabbi Pete Tobias

This Wednesday sees the start of the Jewish month of Elul, leading up to the Jewish New Year. It’s a time in which Jews prepare themselves for the days of repentance that lie ahead. Here’s an extract from the prayerbook we’ll be using at the New Year:

‘It is not easy to repent. For we do not see ourselves as others see us, still less as God sees us. Self-love deceives us; pride makes us unwilling to admit the truth about ourselves. Our motives, we like to think, are good; our weaknesses excusable; and our misdeeds due to forces beyond our control.

We would do better not to pretend: better to recognise that it is we who cheat, distort and destroy – we, and not only ‘they’; better to acknowledge that if the society around us is ugly with selfishness, falsehood and violence, the fault must lie not in our stars but in us.’

True repentance seeks to strip away the vanity and self-righteousness with which we surround ourselves and thereby enables us also to see our virtues. For there is goodness in us too, and this can shine through if the darker side of our nature can be conquered.

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