Between the Suns

It is said that the possibility for teshuvah (turning, returning, atonement, repentance, remorse) was created bein hashemashot (between the suns) that is, somewhere in a moment that was not quite the end of the Six Days of Creation nor quite yet the beginning of the Seventh Day, the first Shabbat.  There are many mystical interpretations of how that happened and I hope you’ll Google them all!

The “take-away” from all of them, I believe, is that our tradition sees teshuvah as an essential component to human existence – that without the possibility of teshuvah we could not sustain ourselves in the context of a society. Without teshuvah we could live as isolated individuals but in order for us to interact, there needs to be the potential for people to recognize their wrongdoings and articulate an apology.

I’ve always thought it crucial to Jewish thought that a pivotal piece of Creation is teshuvah and not forgiveness. Apology is the foundation for forgiveness, not the other way around.

As we finish up these last two weeks of the month of Elul, the month of preparation before our High Holy Days, we need to push ourselves to do the challenging work of reviewing our living and listing the things we have done that were hurtful, inappropriate, uncaring, neglectful, irresponsible and more. That’s our Jewish version of “making a list and checking it twice” and finding out that which in our own lives (no the lives of others) has been “naughty or nice”.

It’s also noteworthy that when we do finally get together with one another on Rosh haShanah, we will proclaim all of our wrongdoings in the plural, not in singular. Why? Because, as Rabbi Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel said, “In a free society, some are guilty, all are responsible.

Have a great couple of weeks getting ready to take responsibility and I’ll see you on Erev Rosh haShanah if not before. In the meantime here are the lyrics to a song I wrote about bein hashmashot.

Bein Hashmashot – Between the Suns
© 2001, Neil Comess-Daniels

On the far side of forever
When the world was being born
At the end of a creation
There came a setting of the sun
And then the sun touched the horizon
And in the colors of the dusk
From the mystery and uncertainty
Rose a turning tower of dust

“This turning is a gift for you,”
Said a Voice without a name,
“So you can always find this Eden
Though it may seem far away
It is here and it is waiting
When you see that you can change
In the turning that is evening
In the pause between the days

“When you can breathe a rainbow
And you can taste the wind
And you can hear the stars glow
And you can make a friend
Bein hashamshot – Between the suns

“For this life is like a pathway
A road to all your days
And when you start to wander
And when you lose your way
Know that you’ve come to that place
Because you’ve brought some pain
To yourself or to another
But you can begin again

“For the turning is a dance of truth
A way that you can choose
To come to see yourself
Not just through others, but for you
The turning is a dance in time
And also, it’s a place
A garden in the sunset
When the moon is on the way

“Where you can breathe a rainbow
And you can taste the wind
And you can hear the stars glow
And you can make a friend
Bein hashamshot – Between the suns

“For without the turning
There would be no love
No justice and no kindness
No below and no above
No peace between the peoples
No darkness and no light
No remorse and no forgiveness
No sense of wrong or what is right

“So here you stand before tomorrow
Between forever and today
In the turning of your evening
In the pause between your days
And when you know not where you’re going
When you cannot find your way
Just look so far within you
Turn around and you will say

“I can breathe a rainbow
I can taste the wind
I can hear the stars glow
I can make a friend
Yes, you can breathe a rainbow
You can taste the wind
You can hear the stars glow
You can make a friend
Bein hashmashot – Between the suns
Bein hashmashot – Between the suns”