Sedra of the Week: Vayelech and Shuva

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Sedra of the Week: Vayelech and Shuva

Belmont's Rebbetzin Lisa Levene looks ahead to this week's portion of the Torah

Shofar on top of a prayer book
Shofar on top of a prayer book

After creating new goals for ourselves on Rosh Hashanah and being judged for another year of life, we now turn our focus to accountability for our mistakes. 

On Yom Kippur, we stand alone, each of us reckoning with the knowledge we are important. Internalising this often poses a challenge: how do we recognise our limitations, overcome them and allow our greatness to come to the fore? 

An answer can be found in the Kli Yakar’s commentary (Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim ben Aaron Luntschitz on this week’s sedra), which states that Moshe spent his last day giving each tribe individually words of mussar, improvement.

Approaching Yom Kippur, we recognise such advice from trusted mentors and role models is not always readily given, and recognising our own limitations is difficult. 

The Kli Yakar’s commentary reminds us that if we don’t receive such objectivity independently, we should take the opportunity to actively seek it out.

Rabbi Aryeh Nevin, an international expert in Jewish personal development, introduced me to The Tripod of Objectivity, which is something I try to do at this point in the year. 

He postulates that there are three types of relationships that help us realise our mistakes and see our greatness: a mentor/teacher whom we respect; a friend/peer who is confronting a similar challenge; and finally, a student/employee/child, who looks up to us and sharpens our minds by the questions they ask.

Subjectivity blinds us. To navigate our lives, achieve balance and assess ourselves honestly, we should seek out advice from mentors, students and friends, helping us bring our greatness to the fore and recognise our profound importance.

  •   Rebbetzin Lisa Levene serves Belmont United Synagogue

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