(Adapted from the Hasidic Soul, told by: Yehoshua Rubin)
Teshuvah means return, return to your most essential self. How do we return? That is a hard question. Returning to who we are is an intense process of self examination. This process can at times be emotional and challenging, All of life is about change. All of nature is a dynamic process of birth, death and rebirth. Science tells us that even the universe is constantly expanding. Yet some people think that not changing is the ideal. In Judaism it is the opposite. Learning how to grow in a healthy and meaningful way is the essence of the process known as Teshuvah.
One way to do Teshuvah is taught by the 19th century Hasidic master, Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev. In the town of Berdichev, where the famous Rabbi Levi Yitzhak lived, there was a very poor shoemaker. As he had no money, he was forced to walk the streets looking for people who needed their shoes fixed. It happened one day that Rabbi Levi Yitzhak was standing at the doorway of his house when the shoemaker passed by. The shoemaker cried out desperately, “Rabbi, surely you have something that needs fixing?!”
Upon hearing these words, Rabbi Levi Yitzhak began to cry. He turned to his wife who was standing near by and said, “You see, even he can tell that I need to fix myself.” Rabbi Levi Yitzhak was so connected to self renewal through self examination that he was able to hear how each life encounter was a gateway to change and growth.
Truly, every experience of our lives has a message for us. May we be blessed with the humility to hear the call for Teshuvah. May we all be given the strength, and give the strength to others, to return to our most essential selves.