Looking back (which is part of the point of Elul), I realize that the previous days’ themes lead us here.
End + Begin + Hope = Change
We need the courage to see our past habits and behaviors for what they are, and be willing to make a break with them.
Likewise, we need the courage to believe in an only-imagined future, to make the Lech Lecha journey toward an unknown, but promised, better place.
And we need to make the choice to hope – that both our endings and beginnings are sustainable; and that they will bear fruit.
It’s only in those oh-so-fragile circumstances that change can happen. It explains why true change is so hard, why we find ourselves reverting back so often, despite experience, history, family, friends, and even doctors telling us that such reversions are neither healthy nor helpful.
In light of this observation, my advice in the wind-up to Rosh Hashana is to be exceedingly kind, gracious, and gentle. With others. With our past efforts. And with ourselves this year.