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Av 11

As far as east is from west, that is how far God has removed our sins from us (Psalms 103:12).

The usual interpretation is that when one does complete teshuvah, one's sins are removed. According to this interpretation, east and west are understood as extremely remote from each other. Another interpretation is based on the exact opposite; namely, that east and west are not far from each other at all. If we face east and make a 180-degree turn, we are now facing west, even though we remain in the very same place. Applying this concept to teshuvah, we do not have to travel to great lengths to achieve teshuvah and to have our sins removed. All we need to do is turn around and face another direction.

The word teshuvah, which means "to turn back," contains this very principle. If we travel on the highway and discover that we have been heading in the wrong direction, progress begins the very moment we turn the car around and head in the right direction. That there may be a delay in reaching the destination should be of little concern, because in the journey of life, the Judge awards merits according to effort rather than according to reaching any one fixed endpoint.

More than one person has made the mistake of making a left turn where a right turn was called for, and only obstinate, opinionated, "I am never wrong" people will refuse to stop at the first opportunity available to inquire and make sure that they are headed in the right direction.

We are all fallible. We may inadvertently make wrong turns in life. How are we to know if we are heading in the right direction unless we stop and ask?

Today I shall...

try to avail myself of a competent spiritual mentor to help me in following the correct path in life.

With stories and insights, Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...

Published: May 21, 2009

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