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04 October 2022

Rebbetzin Tziporah (Heller) Gottlieb

Dear friends,

It’s here!!!!!

Yom Kippur is the best day of the year; it cleanses and leaves you with the potential to be the person you always wanted to be.


Rambam tells you that the Torah commandment of Tshuvah is confession to Hashem, which by its nature includes both regret for past wrongs and commitment to change. You can mistakenly think that it should sound something like this:


“I am a failure. The proof of who I am is what I do. After all, who did all this awful stuff, Oscar? Harry? No! it was me!” Followed by, “This is boring. I already said this. I said it several times this Yom Kippur, and that is without even remembering what I said last year. Promises made and forgotten. Why revisit the scene of the failure? It’s not going to happen. Okay. I’ll say it. It’s printed in the machzor. I don’t need more guilt. Here goes, “Ashamnu.” I was guilty. “Bagadnu” I was a traitor….” 


Version 2


“You Hashem know me better than I know myself. You breathed something of You into me, and You made me live with my desires, my ravenous ego, and my impulsivity. You didn’t make a mistake when you made me with inborn love of everything that You hate. You made Tshuvah before You brought existence, as we know it, into being. You aren’t shocked by what we can become. You know that moral growth includes doing battle, and that returning is even nobler than never stumbling. The wise men I haven’t met put it into words. “Ashamnu” We (No! Not just me. All of us.) have been made desolate. What could have been full is empty. I will fill it! “Bagadnu” We were traitors. You give us so much! Just listen to what the anti-Semites say. “They dominate the world. They take over everything they touch.” Isn’t that how You made us? I want to use the desire to lead for the good. The desire to own to elevate the world that You gave us with Your signature intricacy and order. I will use what You poured into me for the good.


Version 3


“I know I can’t change on my own. The yetzer hara is an angel, and I am only a human. I implore you to help me. I know that You want to. I have no desire to return to the place of no return. The place where I was when I made blockages and walls when what I want more than anything is connection.




Picture a domino five, One white dot in every corner of the black surface, and another white dot in the center. Each of the four dots is disconnected from any other dot. They are, however, equally close to the center dot.




The physical world is made from four basic compounds. Fire, water, earth and air. Each of them has a spiritual parallel, one that (like the physical compound) can be used for good or for the opposite.


Fire – passion, the energy you need to love, to be fully alive, to be dedicated. It rises by its nature to its source the way the soul by its nature reaches out to Hashem

Fire – the destructive passion that leads you to saying what you should never say, doing what you should never do, destroying what you love as easily as you destroy what you hate


Water – the flow from above to below that brings its nurture to everything that l lives

Water – the flow of nurture that you can easily turn inward and redefine nurture as self-indulgent treat after treat living in which there is neither real purpose nor even real pleasure


Earth – the resilient source of growth. Everyone steps on it, but it endures. Humble caring and always there

Earth – the passive unambitious voice of depression laziness and often a silent but hidden brand of despair


Air – the stuff that takes you above the earth, brings you to spiritual consciousness and makes you feel alive

Air – the escapist fantasy that tells you nothing matters




You are a composite of all of the compounds. Whether they take you to version, one or version two is where free choice lives. The only real choice is whether you turn your nature towards Hashem, His will and His plan for you, or let it take on its own life, leading you further and further away.

If you can make time to read the confession today, and ask yourself what they say about the direction you may have chosen in the past, you may find yourself wanting a new direction. Telling Hashem that you want to redefine yourself (not recreate yourself – essentially the elements that make you yourself are where your highest potential lives), He will not only accept your Tshuvah, but He will help you to move beyond your present moment systematically.


You know the people who have done it. The famous baalei Tshuvah who used their talents and abilities in a new direction. The non-famous baale Tshuvah who turned ambition into kiruv, passion into tefillah, materialism into generous hospitality and more.


Have a gmar chatima tovah and enjoy every moment on the road.





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