Change Is Possible

Yael Eckstein  |  August 25, 2020

Image of calendar

…and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. — Deuteronomy 21:13

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Ki Teitzei, which means “when you go out,” from Deuteronomy 21:10–25:19.

Right now on the Jewish calendar, we find ourselves in the last month of the year. I love this time of year. It’s a time of hope and a time of reflection. According to Jewish tradition, these 30 days leading up to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, are conducive to change as we let go of the past and embrace a better version of who we can be.

But change is hard, as most of us have learned. How many times have we tried to adapt new habits, only to fail a few weeks later? However, a teaching in this week’s Torah portion encourages me and inspires me to make the most of these last 30 days of the Jewish year.

This week’s portion contains the laws regarding a beautiful woman taken captive in war. If the war was fought in accordance with God’s will, an Israelite soldier was permitted to take the woman to be his wife, but first, he had to wait 30 days. There are many reasons suggested for the 30-day waiting period. One of them suggests that it takes 30 days to change a habit, and so the woman would need 30 days to purge herself of her idolatrous ways until she could marry into God’s people.

What a useful bit of truth! According to this teaching, it takes just 30 days to make a significant change. If we can stick to something for just one month, we can positively affect the rest of our lives.

This idea, first declared by the Jewish sages thousands of years ago, was echoed in a lecture I once heard about the “30-day challenge.” The idea was to encourage people to try something new for 30 days in order to create a significant change in their lives. As the speaker demonstrated, 30 days is long enough to produce real and lasting change, but short enough that the goal is attainable.

I want to encourage us all to pick one aspect of ourselves that we would like to improve upon and commit to a change for the next 30 days. I believe that we have the ability to change for the better, and with God’s help, we can grow into the person He created us to be.

Your turn:

What habit or daily practice might you commit to for the next 30 days? I’d love to hear what you are working on!