Where do we start
It's Elul and we all want to start doing Teshuvah, but we ask ourselves "Where do we start?". Someone posted on the forum yesterday something simple yet profound from the Chofetz Chaim (and we added it to our Teshuva page). The Chofetz Chaim says that the essence of doing Teshuvah is to make a careful reckoning of what things brought us to sin or made it possible for us to sin, and to avoid those things from now on. One who does this, is fulfilling the Mitzvah of "doing Teshuvah" properly.
It sounds simple but it is truly profound. It's not enough to want to do Teshuvah. We been wanting to do Teshuvah for years and yet we kept falling back into it. Even stopping the sins is not enough. We've stopped in the past for periods of time, only to slip again back into it again. If we want to do Teshuvah this year and finally GET IT RIGHT, we have to sit down and explore carefully what brings us to fall. We need to ask ourselves, "what are all the different situations and circumstances that cause us to lose hope and take the plunge?" Often a trained therapist can help in this, but if we are diligent we may be able to do it on our own. It's not easy, and it may take much trial and error to really learn all the insidious tricks of the Yetzer Hara and how he gets us to fall. But one who is determined, will always stay aware and learn what to avoid.
The most obvious pitfall in these areas is the internet. If you haven't installed a strong internet filter yet, forget about doing Teshuvah this Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur - because this is exactly what the Chofetz Chaim means! See our Filter page and find one that works for you today. And make sure to give the password to your wife or to a trusted friend.