Making Selichot Meaningful

So, here we are . in the final countdown. Selichot starts for us Ashkenazim this Motsei Shabbat.

After trying for most of Elul to think about Teshuva and start to improve  my ways and correct my habits, I have come with 2 broad ideas :

  1. Not repeating our mistakes

How do I know if Hashem accepted my Teshuva? Gevald. This is the biggest hangup of the baal teshuva. How do I know that my million years of sins are forgiven?

It’s very simple. If you don’t do it again, that means Hashem forgave you. Your repentance is accepted. If you still doing the same things several years later, obviously Hashem didn’t forgive you, because you never did Teshuva. From Orot Shlomo.

Wow – I have been searching for inspiration, trying to find the right words and thoughts during this period on introspection. And it is this simple (or is it?)

The question is why do we keep making the same mistakes?

Why do say we are going on diet, and then why do we eat those sweets, chocolates or chips?

Why do we lose our temper, be impatient or get irritated by the small things in life?

Maybe, we are too harsh on ourselves.

2. Words

Selichot – translates to Forgiven. Slicha – which translates to Sorry.

As related by Rabbi Danny Kirsch in his weekly Thursday Parsha Shiur in London.

What is the greatest commodity in the World? Should we say Diamonds because they are scarce?

The great commodity in the world is – Air. Yes – we can not live without it.

Breath is the highest commodity.  Speech is what distinguishes Man from Animals. God created the World with words. Words – have tremendous power. God created the World by words and breathing part if his Neshama into Man. Neshama = breath

By saying Selichot,  I am going to glorify Hashem name. This is our role in the world by:

  1. Doing Miztvos – being kind to others
  2. Bring Godliness in the World

When we sin, we stop Godliness in the world. by saying Selichot, we want to keep our word – our word is our bond.

This is further expanded on in last written Message Reb Shlomo gave over to the Chevra. Elul 5754. As related by Moshe Pesach Geller:

One of the most important aspects of Rosh Hashana is not to say bad things about another person. As you want G-d to give you a chance, give everyone else a chance to also begin again.

So my dearest brothers and sisters, it’s only after Rosh Hashana when our beginning is so strong, when we get a taste that our inside has never been blemished and we go to the Holy Cleaner, the Master of the World who takes out all the stains from our hearts, and the dust from our souls. And He is doing it while we are singing and dancing – on Yom Kippur we tell Him all our mistakes because we have so much inner strength already.

Please, please, give each other strength. Don’t ever stop giving compliments to each other and most of all to your children, whose self-confidence depends on you! On Rosh Hashana, every second counts like a thousand years.

Our holy master Reb Nachman says, “The greatest gift we can give somebody is to give him back his self confidence.”

When we make a mistake, not only we do wrong, our soul is shriveling and we look down at ourselves. A whole year of mistakes – Gevalt! How do we look at ourselves? It doesn’t take much to give up on somebody else – but to give up on ourselves is always Federal Express i.e too easy.

To have the guts to really begin again, takes a lot of inner strength. So Rosh Hashana, the holiest day of beginnings, we don’t mention our mistakes in order to have the strength to stand before G-d like new born babies. Our holy rabbis teach us that the sound of the shofar is the sound of our innermost soul and heart but also the sound of a newborn baby. It is everything. It wakes us up, gives us strength, reminds us how holy we are and how holy we can be, and also how close we are and how easy it is to be the best and most exalted.

Selichos is when I realize that I can’t wait to be close to You again! I can’t wait to correct my ways, I need You to help me let myself be me again, right now. Please. My whole life is an emergency. Praying to G-d on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is the medicine.

Reb Shlomo said that sometimes when you go in to the emergency room you sit down and are patient to be seen. But when you have a really serious medical problem that can’t wait you go right past the door and scream, “emergency, it’s an emergency.” Selichos is when a person cries to Hashem and says, “I’m an emergency.”

About the Author
Jeffrey is a Blogger, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist (we can only dream) living in Jerusalem. He has five kids and three grandchildren. He is looking to spread the message of Ahavat Yisrael and Jewish Unity through the music and teachings of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach and connecting our lost Jewish brothers and sisters to Israel. God and themselves.
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