Elul isn’t meant to be a time of frustration and discouragement. It’s supposed to be an uplifting time. An empowering time. A time when we cleanse ourselves, renew our commitment to
our Creator, and transform into better Jews. Many of us dream of an Elul experience like the one described above. We understand how badly we need to change. We yearn to reconnect with our Creator, to progress in our avodas Hashem.
But we’re discouraged. We don’t feel motivated enough, or confident enough, to embark on such a taxing journey. Why? Because every year, no matter how much effort we invest, our
carefully selected kabbalos (resolutions) seem to unravel in a depressingly short amount of time.
It’s hard to throw ourselves into the work of teshuvah when a niggling inner voice keeps whispering that we won’t succeed. It’s disheartening to feel as though every Elul finds us back at square one. Why should the current year be any different?
This Elul, instead of asking “why,” let us ask, “how?” How can we make this year different? How can we finally create lasting changes and truly transform into better Jews?
Rav Yisrael Salanter, renowned father of the Mussar Movement, used to set himself one very specific goal for the Yamim Noraim (High Holidays). He would spend the entire forty-day period between Rosh Chodesh Elul and Yom Kippur preparing himself to emerge from that holiest day with one kabbalah ketana, one small resolution that he felt certain he could maintain.
If his resolutions were always small, why did they need to be built on forty days of preparation? Because Rav Yisrael’s primary goal was to ensure that his commitments lasted. He understood that this one sliver of lasting progress, this single permanent step in the right direction, would set him on a path of continuous teshuvah and growth for the year to come.
This kuntres (booklet) guides us how to clear our own path to lasting teshuvah. How to finally break that frustrating cycle of unsustainable growth. Based on the teachings of Rav Reuven Leuchter shlita, these pages help us develop the tools we need to truly effect lasting change. Eye-opening insights and practical advice will empower our teshuvah journey and enable us to experience a truly meaningful Elul and Yamim Noraim.
Rabbi Levi Lebovits is the Director of the Vaad Project, Yeshiva Toras Chaim of Denver.