Teshuva simply means returning to ourselves. Shabbat helps us do this every week.
Returning to Israel does this as well, as our every day life and the recent Parshiot remind us.
But the month of Elul, which begins on Shabbat and Sunday, is an immersion for all of Am Yisrael in this excellent process, and we need one another to become our best selves.
Today, even though I parked slightly illegally in Rami Levi, this time I did not get a fine! Yishtabach shmo.
In my heart I had actually made a deal that if no fine, this money would go to tzedaka.
Aside from being a beautiful, central mitzvah taught in this Parasha, one never loses money through tzedaka – on the contrary, it protects and magnifies our wealth.
So I am grateful for good opportunities to give and to the person I will give my parking fine money to!
And that Judaism expects us to perfect ourselves through our relationships with the “tzibbur” – our families, friends, community, our world.
Parshat Re’eh opens in both singular and plural form, bringing this essential point home:
“רְאֵ֗ה אָֽנֹכִ֛י נֹתֵ֥ן לִפְנֵיכֶ֖ם הַיּ֑וֹם בְּרָכָ֖ה וּקְלָלָֽה.”
“Behold [singular], I set before you [plural!] today a blessing and a curse.”
We are responsible for ourselves and our community. We are interconnected, like limbs of the same body. We are free to choose goodness or the opposite, but our choices affect the fate of our whole people. This is both heavy and wonderful.
We are one soul.
When I am patient and kind with my family, there is a ripple effect. When I am sensitive to those who feel less connected or alone, our whole community is strengthened.
Even the kosher foods I eat, taught also in this Parsha, bring kedusha and blessing to our world.
The right choices are so accessible today, and God is
closer than ever this month to help us make them.
“Make for Me an opening of Teshuva the size of the eye of a needle, and I will widen it, so that horses and carriages can come through.” (Midrash Shir HaShirim)