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The Weekly Reflection – Shabbos Shuva
Aseres Yemei Teshuva – Resolving to Upgrade an Area of One’s Avodas Hashem

By Rav Simcha Klein

Aseres Yemei Teshuva is a time for deep introspection. We are obligated to meticulously examine our actions and conduct of the previous year.

In the realm of bein odom l’chaveiro – we need to think back to the entire previous year and remember if there is someone who we slighted and have not yet asked for forgiveness from (including spouses and family members!).

In the realm of bein odom l’makom – As a veteran of many Aseres Yemei Teshuva, I firmly believe that it is too much for a person to improve in many areas of avodas Hashem in a matter of a few days. Therefore, I think the appropriate approach for this period is to identify one or two areas of avodas Hashem (and no more) that you are weak in and determine a realistic upgrade in that particular area; making a constructive resolution that you are confident about abiding to for the new year1.

Unfortunately, at this time of the year the yetzer hara takes on the guise of frumkeit and encourages us to accept upon ourselves way too much, setting us up for failure.

The following is a list (in no particular order) of 20 areas of avodas Hashem in which every individual should examine his own track record.

  1. Honesty in business.
  2. Expression of gratitude to spouse.
  3. Intensity of berochos (both before and after).
  4. Cleanliness of speech.
  5. Awareness of hilchos Shabbos.
  6. Spending quality time with children.
  7. Tefila b’tzibbur.
  8. Gossip.
  9. Kavanah at krias Shema, Shemoneh Esrei, and putting on tefillin.
  10. Conduct in the work place vis ve co-workers (male and female).
  11. Tzedakah.
  12. Disturbing other people’s davening by talking or bringing young children to shul.
  13. Kvias itim.
  14. Yichud at home or in the work place
  15. Time spent in the blogosphere.
  16. Anger management.
  17. Chesed through one’s time or talent.
  18. Relationship with parents and in-laws.
  19. Divrei Torah at the Shabbos table.
  20. What we allow our eyes to see.

Perhaps one should keep a written record of each year’s resolutions and analyze them at the end of the year to discover what worked for you and what did not. If one chooses new areas to work on every year, over time you will have accumulated an impressive roster of avodas Hashem upgrades to your benefit.

May we all be zoche to outsmart the yetzer hara, who will utilize every weapon at his disposal to prevent us from growing spiritually.


1. I have since found that this approach has been advocated by Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach Z”L; see Halichos Shlomo (Tishrei perek 3 ois 4)