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"Return to Me"

This Sabbath in the Jewish calendar is called Shabbat Shuvah, "Sabbath of Return".

It falls between Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).

Yom Kippur is the most solemn day in the Jewish liturgical year – a day of fasting and prayer, a day of personal and communal atonement for sins.

These "in-between" days leading up to Yom Kippur are known as “Days of Awe”. They are imbued with themes of teshuvah, the return to God, the renewal of one’s life – life lived with God, and within community.

In Jewish tradition the voices of the sages abound with keen biblical insights into the practice of teshuvah, the return to a merciful God.

They often speak through the simplicity and power of story (midrash). You may like to ponder this story from Jewish wisdom, during these Days of Awe:

“Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God”

(Hosea 14:1/2).

A king’s son was a distance of a hundred days’ journey from his father. Said his friends to him, “Return to your father.” He said to them, “I cannot.” His father sent word to him, saying, “Go as far as you are able, and I shall come the rest of the way to you.”

Thus, the Holy One said to Israel: “Return to Me, and I will return to you

(Malachi 3:7).” [1]

1. From Pesikta Rabbati, a medieval book of midrash (Jewish storytelling traditions), quoted in Days of Awe: A Treasury of Jewish Wisdom for Reflection, Repentance, and Renewal on the High Holy Days, edited by S.Y. Agnon (New York: Schocken Books, 1965, 1975), 139.


Light of Torah is a grassroots ministry based in the Catholic community, encouraging Christians to reflect on Torah with the help of Jewish insights. More...

The Torah portion read in Jewish communities on this Sabbath is Parashat Vayelech, Deuteronomy 31:1-30.

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