"The Duties of the Heart"
Gate Seven: "The Gate of Teshuva"
There are four major components to teshuva with a lot of corresponding
facets. So, we'll list the four here first outright and shed some light on
why they matter if you truly want to achieve teshuva and draw close to G-d
again, and we'll then spell out each component's facets in the next
In order to achieve teshuva you'd first need to fully regret having
committed the sin; second, to stop doing it; third, to admit to having
committed it and ask to be forgiven; and fourth, to wholeheartedly take it
upon yourself never to commit it again. Let's explore each a bit.
Your regretting having sinned (component 1) shows that you're now
discomfited and embarrassed by something that you once unthinkingly
assumed was all right which you now know was wrong. That's a hard thing to
do: only someone who has given thought to his or her actions and
motivations can manage to do this, so you're to be commended for it by all
When you stop committing a particular sin (component 2) that shows that
you now reject and repudiate it, and consider the very thing that you'd
once valued as being sorry and odious instead. That also indicates
maturity, as well as a growing affinity with G-d's values. But it likewise
shows that you've to come realize that your actions have their
consequences, and that they truly do affect your relationship with Him.
Admitting a sin and asking to be forgiven for it (component 3) shows that
you've come to humbly acquiesce your will to G-d's own, which itself
indicates a deepening of your commitment to Him and your realizing how
important He is in your life.
Finally, your wholeheartedly taking it upon yourself never to commit that
sin again (component 4) is a sign that you realize just how wrong and
serious the sin you committed actually was, which indicates that the
fragility of your relationship to G-d has truly dawned on you.
And since we see all the time that when someone who has wronged another
person shows that he truly regrets what he did, admits to it, and takes it
upon himself never to do it again, that that's reason enough for the other
person to forgive him, we're sure (and assured) that G-d forgives us for
our wrongdoings when we do those things, too.
Text Copyright © 2004 by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman and Torah.org