This Sabbath for Jews is called the Sabbath of Turning. This is so because the intention of these days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is a turning back to God and the Divine path.
One of the loveliest and most powerful facets of the verses we read this week from Hosea and Micah is that they speak, specifically, of the way back to God. What does the God of mercy hope of us after we have strayed and erred?
The first step comes with an acknowledgement that we have stumbled. The second carries a true desire to return. Alas, the challenge is hard at the start because of the difficulty of taking even these first two steps.
Third, we offer words of remorse and devotion to a better way forward. In doing so, we seek at-One-ment through re-aligning ourselves to right purpose, with confession and a sincere intention to mend our ways.
Fourth, we return with whole heart, saying that material power, earthly rescue, and the gods of our own creation are not the source of our true salvation. Rather the saving hand comes only from the One God Who pardons iniquity, forgives transgression, and teaches us of righteousness.
We may feel like orphans in seeking return to God. But God waits with mercy. “I will love them gratuitously.”
In this return, there’s the promise for us to “blossom like a rosebush,” with roots striking out “like the cedars of Lebanon,” serving as as an eternal legacy which will bring blessing for future generations.
“Who is wise and will understand these things?” Who will take the steps of return?