We may associate the Jewish New Year with inward reflection, but the Mishnah and the commentaries are clear that Judaism treats teshuvah as a fundamentally social process.
Our social emotions, like anger, compassion, guilt and gratitude, are really designed to help us solve the Tragedy of the Commons.
Sources as ancient as the Talmud say that even if we know intellectually that a habit is wrong, we’ll often keep doing it. Why?
In recent centuries, we have internalized the problem of Amalek, recognizing that in every society there is the potential to be incited to violence and dominance.
As we begin this new year, there are millions like Hagar and Ishmael wandering their personal wildernesses in search of survival and needing aid. We learn from the Torah not to expect divine intervention to rescue them. We need to act ourselves, as did Hagar.