Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year. is also the holiday that bookends an annual block of time when Jewish people are bidden to revisit their behavior over the past year. We are to apologize to our fellows and to our God for those actions we regret, and take steps to turn away from behavior we are not proud of and back onto a path of righteousness. Although we hope to complete this process during the period between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, in reality, undoing great harms can only be begun during that period. Forgiveness and making true change is a process and will go on.
The High Holidays, as the events of this time period are often referred to, provides an opportunity not only to be conscious about the pain we may have inflicted - knowingly or not, intentionally or not - but to articulate our regret aloud to those people whom we've injured. Acknowledging our remorse, and also on the flip side, accepting sincere apologies offered to us, can lead to healing and more "Shalom," peace in our lives.
Rosh HaShanah has implications beyond the personal. It presents a perfect opportunity to ease tensions at the workplace too.
A great online article at eJewish Philanthropy by Steven Donshik called "The Tshuvah Process in Jewish Communal Organizations" offers five steps to help you turn a tense organizational situation around, but these are also excellent steps to apply in a personal relationship, if you're not sure where to start. "T'shuvah"," by the way, means "to turn." To turn away from what we no longer wish to be. To turn toward our better selves.
Donshik's five steps are below. Or click here to link to the full article.
- Identify the people with whom you feel tension or discomfort.
- Gain clarity about whether the relationship is weak because of something they said or did to you or something you said or did to them.
- Decide to approach the other person to “clear the air” and “straighten out the relationship.”
- Set a time to meet with the person so you can engage in a meaningful conversation, rather than catching them on the go.
- Begin the conversation by saying that you have felt tension between the two of you or you realize that the two of you have not gotten along and you would like to try and make amends. Focus on what it will take to strengthen the relationship; do not go over and over who did what to whom.