"The Duties of the Heart"
Gate Seven: "The Gate of Teshuva"
As in all other human efforts, teshuva is also oftentimes only barely
effective, other times more or less so, and here and there utterly
let's see what goes into each.
We'd do well to start with this point, though. It's axiomatic to our
tradition that, thanks to our Torah, we know what to do to achieve
excellence. So while, for example, it would never occur to me to eat a
meal on a Saturday afternoon with friends to achieve that, it's still-and-
genuinely true that that's one way to. And while on the other hand it
wouldn't ever occur to me that phoning one of those friends later that
would *denigrate* my spiritual standing, that's true too. So, unless we
we're doing at any given moment, we're open to good or bad choices without
knowing which is which. Clearly, then, Torah knowledge is fundamental to
But there are two other factors to consider. There's the input of our
instincts (our "yetzer harah") which we'd spoken of already, and our
commitment to spiritual excellence. Now back to teshuva.
Anytime I'm faced with the choice to do something I know to be wrong or
to, and my yetzer harah gets the best of me and I actually do sin -- and I
merely *regret* what I did, then I'd have to do more to achieve full
Because being sorry is only skin-deep, since it indicates that I hardly
my spiritual status; and it's thus barely effective.
But if I know what's right and wrong, and I honestly want to avoid
yet I sin despite myself because my yetzer harah manages to get the best
anyway, then I'd need to take what I did to heart and enter into full
(which we'll depict later on). But it would be clear that I could be
again in the future and open to persuasion, that my teshuva was only more
less effective, and that I hadn't fully rectified my being.
My teshuva would only have been utterly effective, then, if I'd fully
in it, if I'd managed to bridle my yetzer harah (which takes many years of
fully committed effort, you understand), and if I'd concentrated upon
other elements of spiritual excellence as well.
Take a few moments to appreciate all that's involved in these other
because while each one alone would undo one's world and alter his being
forever, the lot of them together will undoubtedly lead to true spiritual
excellence. We fully appreciate that each calls for a lengthy
explication, but space
will not allow for that, so we'll just list them.
True and utterly effective teshuva would also entail ceaseless
an ongoing the fear of Heaven, an awareness of how wrong it is to sin in
presence of G-d Almighty, and a deep and heart-felt regret for one's
Text Copyright © 2004 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org