Self Esteem: The Key To Repentance — Rosh Hashanah Thoughts

With Rosh Hashanah coming up this week, we are entering a very special time of year when we reflect on our lives and where we are going. This process is called, ‘Teshuva’, or ‘Repentance’, whereby we are returning to G-d and more importantly ourselves.

(Make sure to use the IsraelB online community to get you in the Rosh Hashanah mood and to inform you of what’s happening.)

But what is the essence of, ‘Teshuva’? What do we need to have in place in order to do effective,’ Teshuva’, which moves us forwards and not sideways?

A few years ago, Rabbi Twersky gave a lecture on the psychological aspects to Repentance (Teshuva). His main point was that in order to do real Teshuva we need to have a positive self-esteem.


Because in order to have meaningful relationships with anyone, including Hashem, you need to have a healthy and positive self-esteem and self-image.

The problem is that many do not have a positive self-esteem – this damages and limits our ability to do Teshuva.

Why don’t we have a positive self-esteem and what do we need to work on?

He suggested a number of factors.

1) We are too dependent on the approval of others.
2) We try to please too much.
3) We have been damaged by our childhood experiences.
4) The Ýetzer Harah’ (evil inclination) also creates negative, destructive feelings.
5) We aim too high. Often highly accomplished people, suffer from self-esteem problems, as they are never satisfied with where they are.
6) Keeping the wrong company can also damage a persons’ self-esteem. Self-esteem is infectious.
7) We don’t fully appreciate we do have a certain amount of control of our fate – more than we realize.
8) We don’t set realistic goals and don’t strive to live purposefully.
9) We get confused between 1) ornamental, and 2) functional values. We put too much of an emphasis on ornamental – aesthetic values, at the expense of the more important and long term functional values. It’s the functional values that give us more meaning and happiness and contribute to our healthy self-esteem.
10) We don’t appreciate we are individuals and each have a certain role to play and only we can perform that role.

Unlike animals, we can communicate through speech and can forgive, and practise humility and attempt to cope with feelings of inadequacy and inferiority.

Once we are conscious of the importance of a healthy self-esteem, we can begin to do Teshuva.

Wishing you all a sweet and meaningful Rosh Hashanah,


About the Author
Benjy Singer works in social media, content writing and editing. He runs a popular online community,, which is a very useful resource, especially for Olim. A graduate of the LSE, UCL and Yeshivat Har Etzion, Benjy enjoys writing, teaching and connecting people.
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