The month of Elul, which leads up to the Fall Feasts (aka the High Holy Days), has traditionally been for the Jewish side of YHVH’s family a time for cleaning our slate, for self-assessment, to look at our own behaviors over the past year and to repent and seek forgiveness as needed for any places where we have “missed the mark.”
The idea is that when we reach Yom Teruah (the Feast of Shofars/Trumpets), after the thirty days of Elul and self-assessment, we will be primed for the ten days then leading up to Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). Thus, making 40 days of self-examination, repentance, and turning our lives toward loving YHVH and loving each other.
For the past four years, B’ney Yosef North America has distributed a daily devotional guide that we have called the “40 Days of Repentance.” Below is a brief history of how that came to be for those who care to know.
This year we are changing the title of our guide to “40 Days of Personal Change.”
This seems like a simple, even seemingly unnecessary, semantic maneuver. But we are convinced Father directed us to do this.
Without going into a full-blown linguistic dissertation on the subtleties of Hebrew and the often-woeful limitations of English, I will try to explain what we perceive to be the salient benefits of shifting from “repentance” to “personal change.”
The goal of repentance is always a lasting manifestation of personal change. However, for many, “repentance” suggests only the emotions and actions associated with remorse, regret, and sorrow; not necessarily anything about actually changing one’s direction and patterns of living. So, in that sense, repentance alone does not take one far enough toward “personal change.”
In this historic year of global uncertainties, we feel our emphasis needs to encourage a deeper application of the processes of self-assessment, prayer, repentance, and personal change. Therefore, we have decided to change how we label our devotional guide.
May you be greatly blessed as you pursue your relationship with YHVH.
In 2016, B’ney Yosef North America began our own tradition of preparing a devotional guide to assist us with our processes of self-assessment, and to help us shift our focus from worldly distractions to godly instructions. It began when Dorothy Wilson sent to all of us the results of her scriptural research on what happens when we are unrepentant. She called it “The Fruit of an Unrepentant Heart,” and it was a scripture-annotated glossary of terms such as backbitings, contentions, envy, hatred, and strife. The glossary contained thirty-seven (37) passages of scripture that identified about seventy-five (75) different character flaws – bad behaviors – that are specifically identified in scripture as being a result of NOT having a repentant heart.
Dorothy’s annotated glossary became a single-document devotional guide that provided a scripture and meditation for each of the “40 Days of Repentance.” For the next three years, a new set of meditations was created each year and they were distributed daily by various means.
This year, 2020, is our fifth year of distributing a devotional guide for this 40 Day period.