Teshuva (Returning)-Tefilah (Prayer)-Tzedaka (Charity):A Juggling Act


Sponsored by Vicky Wu on the Yahrzeit of JJ Greenberg

"May the memory of JJ continue to stay with us, as strong as the influence of his love for life and for the Jewish People."



In the Musaf (Additional) Service for Rosh HaShana we say the words:

“Uteshuva, utefila, utzedaka maavirin et roa hagzera”, “Repentance, prayer and charity remove the evil decree!”


In the Gemara in Rosh HaShana 16b we learn that teshuva, tefillah and tzedaka can influence God to cast aside the harshness of the decree.


In most Machzors (High  Holiday Prayerbooks) on top of these three words there are smaller words:


צום           קול     ממון

ותשובה ותפילה וצדקה


Tzom (fasting), Kol (voice) and Mamon (money).


These subscripts teach us the recipe for sincere repentance: fasting, praying out loud and making donations to charity.


Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf comments that we have three interwoven spheres of relationships in our lives: I and myself, I and God and I and other human beings. Teshuva is a return to one’s true path, to a sense of harmony. Prayer is returning to God. Charity is actively expressing our concern for others.


Rabbi Apisdorf explains that life is often a juggling act.


W must take care of ourselves, we must build a relationship with God and we must take care of other human beings.


As the new year approaches, let’s see how we can take better care of ourselves weather it be through eating healthier or quitting smoking (still a big problem in Israel), how we can build our relationship with God through observing more mitzvoth or finding a shul (synagogue) that we find to be more conducive to serious prayer and by giving charity to worthy organizations or volunteering our time to work with the elderly or those with special needs.


The challenge of Teshuva is the juggling act: how we will follow through over the course of the year.