Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Many arose last night or at dawn for selichot (communal prayers for Divine forgiveness). To them and to whoever wishes to make amends during the month of Elul for past transgressions, the following essay of Rabbi Itamar Heiken is dedicated:
"I had a friend in the army whose livelihood was derived from fixing televisions. Once he earned a good living, but in the course of time people stopped fixing televisions. If their TV broke, they bought a new one. So, too, the shoe repair profession has virtually vanished, since almost no one fixes shoes anymore, and there are also fewer and fewer seamstresses and tailors who mend torn garments. And this is true not only regarding physical objects; we have gotten used to behaving similarly in regard to people. A relationship with someone went bad? Exchange that person for someone else. Your child is upset with his teacher? Change the teacher. You don't like your boss? Change jobs. Having difficulties in marriage? Get a divorce. But these are all missed opportunities to deepen our relationships.
Sometimws crises and difficulties are part of our life story, and by avoiding them we avoid opportunities for growth and self-improvement. In the end, after all, how we feel about other people is just a reflection of how we feel about ourselves.
And this is the magnificent innovation of Elul. We experienced this for the first time when we left Egypt: We received the Torah with an abundance of hope and expectation, but we sinned with the golden calf. Not only were two tablets shattered, but an ideal relationship with God came undone at the foot of the mountain. But Moshe Rabbeinu ascended the mountain again and after 40 days and nights of prayer and forgiveness, on Yom Kippur, he came down from Mount Sinai a second time, with a second set of tablets.
The big idea here is that a person can make amends and rebuild what was destroyed. Even if I messed up and sinned egregiously, it is still possible to repair my relationships with God and man. This is the deep secret of teshuvah.
Elul comes to teach us that if something breaks or goes wrong - try to fix it. Do not rush to slam the door, but create an opportunity for reconciliation and give love a second chance."