Dear Readers,

If you’ve been following this column, you know that we recently moved into a brand-new house. Everything—from the appliances, to the freshly painted walls, to the wood-stained floors—is new.

At first, it took some getting used to. I couldn’t readily remember in which cabinet I had stored my spices, my morning coffee or my favorite sweater. I knew though that in time, I would become familiar with my surroundings. Still, it was all so exciting—cooking on a perfectly clean, unused cooktop, and learning how to use the gadgets on my new washing machine.

Firsts are exciting. Like the first day of school, the first day after a newborn is home or the first day after the wedding. Everything is new, special and … still just about perfect.

But eventually, the freshness wears off. The baby begins to cry incessantly throughout the night, the new school uniform begins to get creased and frayed, and you and your spouse have your first big fight.

So, too, one of the drawbacks of living in our new home was that we noticed immediately when something became scratched, dented or nicked. Almost as soon as the movers left, we could already see the effects of our furniture, pushed or moved over ever so slightly, on our wood floors, or the small scratches on the walls. Small dents or scuffs began to appear—no matter how careful we tried to be—and were more noticeable because of the newness.

But surprisingly, with those newly acquired small scratches, there was also a sense of relief. The novelty was wearing off slightly. This was no longer a “brand-new house” to look at; it was now being lived in. It was becoming our personal home and sanctuary, where we would create memories.

Real life isn’t about being perfect. Real life can be messy. It is full of mistakes and mishaps and spills and breakages. It is about things and, more importantly, feelings, becoming tarnished or stained, smeared and discolored. Human beings aren’t perfect. We aren’t meant to live perfect lives, but we are meant to keep reaching higher, to fall down and still have the courage to keep getting up.

And that is what is so beautiful about the month we are in.

Elul is an opportune time of forgiveness. It is a time or introspection, evaluating where we are and how we can be. Teshuvah means returning—returning to the true, pure self that never changes. It’s not a time of beating ourselves up for our failures, but one of realizing the constraints of our humanness and coming to terms with our falls, our dents and our scratches, and nevertheless making the effort to clean ourselves off, get up again and try harder.

Chana Weisberg,

Editor, TJW