We learn in the Mishnah that Rabbi Eliezer taught, “Do t’shuva (repent) one day before your death.” When his students asked him, how should a person know what that day is, he replied, “Then let a person repent today, lest he die tomorrow, and he will find all of his days in penitence.”
This teaching, that urges us to do the work of t’shuvah, the work of repentance, each day, rather than just at this time of the year as we welcome in the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, is an important reminder that our holy work to engage in the process of doing introspection, making amends, and looking towards the future is a constant necessity and not just an annual one. But, the flip side of the argument is true as well. If we are urged to make t’shuvah each day, then we should also be urged to be open to the path of forgiveness, consistently as well. And the two processes are really linked.
When we open our hearts to the possibility of making amends and making ourselves better people, we will then be open to the possibility of others making amends and become better individuals as well. It is through this process of opening our hearts, opening our minds to the possibility of renewal, and putting aside our differences that we can truly forgive one another, grow from our mistakes and differences, and bring more holiness into the world through a strengthened or healed relationship. May this be our task in the New Year: to open our hearts to one another, to be ready to forgive when the time is right, and truly engage in t’shuvah each and every day.
Shanah tovah u’metukah.