The word "Beginning" begs the enquiry if 'things' did not start much before the evident beginning. Most of us would not want to start from scratch, learning again to walk, speak. Most beginnings have roots. Yet there are beginnings in moments of inspiration, moments and events that surprise us so much as to be akin to what Adam Philips describes as "secular revelation." There is always newness in revelation, even if it is revealing something prior to its epochal moment. Maimonides describes the "Perfect Returnee" or Master of Perfect Repentance ("Ba'al Tshuva Gemura") - before even telling us what Tshuva is - as one who had the opportunity and the ability to do a sin s/he had previously transgressed "and didn't do it because of Tshuva, not for fear of lack of strength, such as one who had had forbidden relationships with a woman and some time later is alone with her again, still loves her and is still virile, in the same country where he previously transgressed, if he desists - this is a perfect Ba'al Tshuva" (Maimonides, Laws of Repentance, chap. II). We are not talking here of an otherwise righteous person, rather it is a transgressor described here. Nothing has changed and yet - suddenly this person has desisted. We are witnessing a perfect moment. The man himself does not know why he has not fulfilled his desires - the only explanation given is "Because of Tshuva." Perhaps this is its perfection. It is not premeditated (which would make him nothing but a tease), but simply "because of Tshuva." Tshuva is: Change. And this - according to Maimonides - is the perfect Tshuva. In the next stanza, Maimonides goes on to explain what ordinary Tshuva is, how to do it, remorse, resolution, confession. But those are secondary to the ultimate Tshuva, for how can a perfect moment be planned? Would it not then be somewhat contrived? Many believe that one goes to therapy in order to change, which is sometimes true, but far more often it is about maintaining a change that has already occurred, sometimes so subtle, volatile, such a faint note, that it goes almost unnoticed. A person suddenly realizes that they cannot, or do not want to, continue life as before. Something that they could tolerate before, in their inner or external life - their tedious and boring work, their abusive relationships - is suddenly intolerable. They have changed, something new has begun. They have, in some way, started anew. But this beginning needs such gentle yet firm holding, just to stay in that new place which can be so frightening in its newness. It is so easy to slip back and again believe that one can tolerate what, in a moment of lucidity, one realizes is wrong for oneself. We need the utmost sensitivity to these beginnings. These moments and realizations are perhaps the most meaningful beginnings of all, for they come from a deep place in the ground of our existence, a place of "knowledge beyond knowing," a place of intuition. Like a sprout just barely breaking ground, hardly noticeable, these changes need close attention and cultivation so they can become the start of new growth. The writer will soon assume the position of co- rabbi and director of the Yakar Beit Medrash in Tel Aviv and works privately as a psychotherapist.

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