Crowd Sourcing Sermon for August 14

“How can we use the month of Elul to prepare to turn the wrongs we have done into merits?”

[From Mishkan HaNefesh, Yom Kippur service, new Reform High Holy Day prayer book, page 85]:
“The Talmud teaches: ‘Great is repentance, for it transforms one’s deliberate sins into merit’ (Talmud, Yoma 86b).  In general, we think of repentance as a way of achieving expiation for the wrongs we have done.  But the Talmud’s teaching points us in a new and surprising direction…The focus is not on changing the past, but in defining a new direction for the future.  For repentance, after all, is ultimately about changing ourselves and evolving morally.”

4 Responses to Crowd Sourcing Sermon for August 14

  1. Betsy Fiebach says:

    Repentance as opportunity is a refreshing, positive spin on what is usually viewed in a very somber light. Perhaps the notion of repentance would seem less daunting if it included possibility/opportunity. Viewed optimistically, and less punitively.

  2. docbzf says:

    One easy way to evoke the reflective nature of the month of Elul is to read the daily inspiring insights found on the internet at


  3. dspear says:

    All sins are really mistakes for not seeing the full result of your action. For instance, the wronged person wrongs you back, starting a war. If we repent, truly saying we are sorry, and correct the wrong, that helps some. But if we not only correct the wrong, but also otherwise improve the wronged person situation, that may turn the mutual anger into mutual love (“merit”)

  4. leftytowhead says:

    Selichot prayers are a yearly discipline of introspection among Jews. We Sephardim recited them daily beginning on the 2nd day of Elul whereas the Ashkenazim recite them on the Shabbat evening or two Shabbat’s before depending on when Rosh Hashanna falls during the week. Their recitation focuses us not so much on the “sins” of the year coming to an end – really not a confessional, but more appropriately on how we can resolve to act more ethically and spiritually during the upcoming year through a discipline of greater consciousness. They’re like an instruction manual which, if read in the correct light, can aid our journey towards improving ourselves as human beings in relationship to The Divine, AND the mundane.

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