Days of Awe

Knots, for Slichot

Images of Teshuvah and Change
Distance and Connection
In 4 [5] Images As Derived From Zohar, Chassidut
and other Sources of Abstract Truth

First image: teshuvah is becoming unstuck

How the Baal Shem Tov Taught Teshuvah*

This way,
said Rabbi R,**
he shuffled into our meeting
introduced us to the teaching
he brought down from the Baal Shem Tov.
Exodus 3:3, Rabbi R said, God speaks to Moses
the bush burning but unconsumed.
Moses turns away,
I will turn away now
and see about this bush
how it remains unconsumed.

Turn away?
Check the Rashi.

The Rav became Rashi
I will turn away from here
and approach There.

Now the Rav became the Baal Shem Tov
that’s teshuvah, he said.

Now I know teshuvah, I said,
process not performance
journey not destination
not goal-taking


*Teshuvah – a transformative, days of awe preoccupation of inner life.
**On September 7, 1993, I was sitting sleepily at the Rabbinical Association meeting at the Brith Sholom Knesset Israel synagogue. The room was underground, though the walls were white, it was dark within. Rabbi R came in, gave us a short teaching that he brought down from the Baal Shem Tov, on teshuvah.

I didn’t know if it was day or night, whether I was awake or dreaming. The person sitting next to me said, if I had come into the world only to see hear these words, it would have been enough.