Death! A word that conjures up little feelings of excitement – for most. Life – on the other hand, is the very purpose of existence. That word – when expressed in its most fullest manner, takes on feelings of joy and blessing.
Yesterday, I found myself near the main cemetery in Sanhedria in Jerusalem. Sadly – many are not aware of the nature of this cemetery and the people who are buried there. For the most part, almost every person buried there is a Tzadik – a righteous individual! The cemetery came to prominence in about the year 1948 – that year when a serious war was taking place which would lead to the proclaiming of a country where the Jewish people would feel safe in – a country of their own… but that idea was already in the making more than three thousand years before!
Perhaps, the best day of the year has just passed by… Yom Kippur. Coming with Yom Kippur is that feeling that the day is truly providing some sort of unique cleaning over the soul – that no other day can provide. Working through Elul, Rosh HaShanah and then the Ten Days of Repentance, keeps one in touch with just how much there still is to correct – to fix up! Then – Yom Kippur comes along. It’s an intense day. There’s fasting, standing for lengthy time periods, focusing on prayer and keeping one’s mind focused on the day itself and what it means.
As we make our way through the Ten Days of Repentance, it is delightful to see how many people want to repent of their wayward ways. It seems like everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon and join the team – so to speak – to be a part of what others are doing. With all this, however, what is real Teshuvah all about and are we going about things the right way after all?
The Rambam (1135-1204) discusses the laws of repentance in great detail through ten chapters of his main work the Yad HaChazakah. Many are of the opinion that one should study one chapter each day of the Ten Days of Repentance in order to get a full overview of everything involved. A short blog post does not do justice to the full importance of all the points involved. The Rambam details everything from what Teshuvah – repentance – is all about – to how to actually do it. He discusses the importance of understanding repentance as is applicable to mitzvot – commandments – between man and God, as well as those between man and man.