You are holding your grandmother’s delicate tea cup when it slips from your fingers and crashes onto the hard floor, shattering into a hundred pieces. The laws of nature affirm that it cannot be made whole again. Sure, you can try to repair it, but it will never look quite the same.

You heard the juiciest gossip about a neighbor and just had to share it with your friends, who in turn told it to theirs. The rules of speech assert that once words have been uttered, they can never be taken back. Sure, you can say new ones in an attempt to cover the old ones, but you can’t unspeak what has already been said.

You’ve crossed a line in your closest relationship. You ripped out a piece of your loved one’s heart. The guidelines for relationships insist that your crime is beyond reprieve. Sure, you can apologize and may be able to work on rebuilding the relationship, but the original breach of trust cannot be bridged.

Conventional wisdom declares that the past cannot be undone, and some mistakes are beyond amnesty.

The Hebrew word for sin, aveirah, comes from the root avar, which means “to pass” or “to cross over.” When we commit an aveirah, we have trespassed and crossed over the line of propriety.

And yet Torah wisdom teaches us that our sins can be mended. Not only can we undo the past, but we can even reach a better state than before we have sinned.

How is this possible? Only through the gift of teshuvah (which means “repentance” or “return”).

The concept of teshuvahof being able to recreate our tarnished past—is not logical. That’s because, teshuvah, like Torah, preceded creation and is rooted in infinity, beyond time and space.

G‑d created us with the freedom to choose and the potential to fail. Before creating the world, He created the concept of teshuvah. He said to it: “I am about to create man in the world, but on condition that when he turns to you because of his sins, you shall be ready to erase his sins and atone for them!” (Zohar III 69b)

Teshuvah can be accessed any time of year by: a) regretting our action; b) admitting our wrong; c) genuinely apologizing to those we’ve hurt and compensating them for any damage done; and d) resolving not to repeat it.

Elul, the month preceding the High Holidays, is a special time for Divine grace. Now is the time to access this gift by rectifying the deficiencies of this past year, and molding a new and better future.

Wishing you a Chodesh Tov!