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300 Hillcrest Blvd Hoffman Estates, IL 60169


Beth Tikvah Congregation

Our House of Hope

300 Hillcrest Blvd, Hoffman Estates, IL 60169  


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From the Rabbi's Desk

Rabbi Taron Tachman

From the Rabbi's Desk

Missing the Mark

As the rabbi began her lecture on repentance, she asked the class: “What must we do before we can expect forgiveness from sin?”

After a long silence, one of the men in attendance raised his hand and said: “sin?”

Though it was a good crack at answering the question, the man misses the mark.

As it turns out, the Hebrew word for sin, chet, derives from an archery term with this very meaning: “to miss the mark.” Over the years many Jewish thinkers have seized upon this word connection and have suggested that we all in life—like archers shooting at a target—sometimes miss the mark. Whether our poorly chosen word or deeds are intentional or not, when we err, when we make a bad moral choice, we hurt ourselves and others and we go astray from where we want to be.

When I was a child, this notion of chet, and missing the mark, was forever imprinted on my mind through a visual example my rabbi concocted. One morning, a few weeks before the High Holy Days, when all of the children entered the temple sanctuary, we couldn’t help but notice a very large bail of hay, with a target on it, sitting in the center of the raised bimah platform. Moments after we sat down, and while we were still wondering why there was a hay bail on the bimah, we heard the “whuh” sound an arrow being released from a bow in the back of the room. Milliseconds later we looked up to see that arrow fly over our heads and then plunge into the center of the target. It was only then that my rabbi explained that he had hired a professional archer to make his point about chet and missing the mark.

When we miss the mark, when we go astray, we are to readjust ourselves and try again. Teshuva, which is often translated as “repentance,” describes a process of return, a way that we can get back on target, back where we are supposed to be.

Through t’shuvah we examine our ways and we seek to repair that which is broken within ourselves, our relationships with others, and with God. T’shuvah requires that we take a lot of steps that begin with the letter “r.” We are to realize, regret and renounce our mistakes. We are to request forgiveness from those we have hurt, and rectify and resolve the damage we have caused. We are to vow not to repeat the same mistakes in the future. Once we do all of this, we are able to restore our relationships and return to being our best selves. Right on target!

This year and always, I wish us all strength and courage as we readjust our aim, strive to improve our ways, and find ourselves making the mark, rather than missing it. BULLSEYE!

May all whom I have wronged in the past year find the strength to forgive me and the courage to let me know if I have in anyway wronged you, even as I forgive all who may have wronged me (though no one specific comes to mind)!

I look forward to seeing you all during this High Holy Day season. (Also, please consider attending Selichot this year. It’s earlier and there will be a light dinner provided—see the front page for details).

Finally, Sara, Sylvie, and Bayla join me in wishing you and your family a Shana Tova U’Mitukah, a good and sweet new year!

Rabbi Taron Tachman



Categories: Rabbi