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Journey of Teshuvah 3: A New Name

By Rabbi Daniel Lichman

This Elul, as the High Holy Days draw near, Rabbi Daniel is sharing a series of reflections with us. Here is the third in the series...

You shall be called by a new name (Isaiah 62:2)

The call

The prophet of our haftarah prophesied (62:4):

Nevermore shall you be called ‘Forsaken’,


you shall be called ‘I delight in her’

For the Source of Love takes delight in you.


‘How are you?’ they ask. And she responds silently to herself:

I am forsaken; I have been abandoned; I am alone.

Then the prophet calls to her in her hole of named-suffering: as Sarai became Sarah and Jacob became Israel - you too can rise out of this whole with a new name.

You shall be called ‘delight.’


First there is noticing. What are the names I habitually called myself this year? What are the words I find myself using to describe myself?

I am ok.

I am fine.

I am miserable.

I am depressed.

I am scared.

I am embarrassed.

Then there is asking: am I this thing? am I actually? which parts of myself am I ignoring by focusing on this?

Then there is the choice for the year ahead: what name can I call myself instead? which part of myself can I lift up through naming?

I am love.

I am beauty.

I am whole.

Can I name myself for the part of me that already is love, and invite all the parts of myself to follow into the possibility of becoming that?

In all their troubles He was troubled,

And the angel of His Presence delivered them.

In His love and pity

He Himself redeemed them,

Raised them, and exalted them

All the days of old. (63:9)

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