As a good retail-conscious Jew, when you buy something, you are undoubtedly intimately familiar with the store’s return policy.
You are well aware that returns are generally not encouraged. Items lose value with time; then there is wear and tear; and returns are harder to re-sell.
So it is with the world at large. Returns are not seen as a good thing. No sane person would desire to return the world to an earlier date, when the sword ruled, minorities were routinely persecuted, and the freedom and equality we know today were but a dream.
And yet this Shabbat is called Shabbat Shuvah, the Shabbat of Return, when we do aspire to return to a certain state. Why? What does this mean? To what are we returning and from where?
The answer lies in the true meaning of Shabbat, “rest,” which is comprised of the same Hebrew letters as tashav, “return.”
To rest is to return, to return is to rest. We rest from all things outside of ourselves in order to return to our true selves, for when we return to our core divine being, we are completely are rest.
This is God’s return policy – his 5775-year return policy … and counting.