The year is rapidly coming to a close. The last days of Elul are here. Tomorrow night the New Year begins. As Elul and 5770 end take a moment to close your eyes and remember all the marker points of this past year in your life. This season of reflection is to help propel us into the New cycle but only once we have reviewed our own lives for the screw-ups, the successes, the false starts, and high points. We may have some unfinished business and we may have to carry somethings over into 5771. But be sure to do so only if you are certain that you won’t bring the bad stuff with you.
Leave it behind. Because that is the point. You can start over. Start clean. Start fresh.
The New Year brings with it an opportunity to turn anew – to make teshuvah. Repentance. And that means forgetting the past and moving forward with hope.
This is as Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav taught:
Most people think of forgetting as a defect, but I consider it a great benefit. If you did not forget, it would be utterly impossible to worship God. You would remember your entire past, and these memories would drag you down, not allowing you to raise yourself up to God. No Matter how much you tried, you would be constantly disturbed by your memories of the past.
But Gos has given us the power to forget and disregard the past. The past is gone forever and need never be brought to mind. Because you can forget, you no longer need be disturbed by the past.
THis is very important to keep in mind when serving God. Most people are distressed by past events, especially during worship. When a person prays, his thoughts are constantly disturbed by memories of the past. He may think about his business or household affairs, worrying that he did something wrong, or neglected something important. While attempting to serve God through study or prayer, he might be troubled by his many sins and shortcomings.
This is a universal problem and each person knows his own difficulties. The best advice for this is simply to forget. As soon as an event is past, forget it completely and never think about it again. Understand this well, for it is a very important concept. (Sichoth Ha Ran 26)
So start over now. Forget the sins of the past and put them behind you. Make a new life and a New Year with new resolve. You can start fresh.