If You Want To Do Teshuva, Smile!

10 facts about Teshuva

| 04.09.17 | 07:15
If You Want To Do Teshuva, Smile!
1. All mitzvoth should be done with happiness including Teshuva. When a person comes back to G-d out of love all his sins turn into merits (Yoma 86b). This alone is a great reason to be happy when doing Teshuva. In addition, teshuva has the power to nullify decrees against a person and to help bring medical recovery to the world.

2. The first step to Teshuva is faith. “Faith doesn’t need anything special other than to talk to G-d”, says Rabbi Shalom Arush author of Garden of Emuna. “First of all speak to G-d; Father in Heaven I want to come close to you. Place in me the faith that you are indeed listening to me, I ask of You this one thing, please do it for me.”

3. The evil inclination tries to weaken a person’s resolve to repent and tells him there’s no point in his repenting since G-d is so great and he is so puny and full of sin that G-d has no use for him. So a person repenting should know, feel and believe that G-d wants his repentance and hopes for it. And that the person has a purpose and mission in this world.  

4. it’s worthwhile to read the Parsha of teshuva once a day:

וְהָיָה֩ כִֽי־יָבֹ֨אוּ עָלֶ֜יךָ כָּל־הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֗לֶּה הַבְּרָכָה֙ וְהַקְּלָלָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר נָתַ֖תִּי לְפָנֶ֑יךָ וַהֲשֵׁבֹתָ֙ אֶל־לְבָבֶ֔ךָ בְּכָל־הַגּוֹיִ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֧ר הִדִּיחֲךָ֛ יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ שָֽׁמָּה׃

When all these things befall you—the blessing and the curse that I have set before you—and you take them to heart amidst the various nations to which the LORD your God has banished you,
וְשַׁבְתָּ֞ עַד־יְהוָ֤ה אֱלֹהֶ֙יךָ֙ וְשָׁמַעְתָּ֣ בְקֹל֔וֹ כְּכֹ֛ל אֲשֶׁר־אָנֹכִ֥י מְצַוְּךָ֖ הַיּ֑וֹם אַתָּ֣ה וּבָנֶ֔יךָ בְּכָל־לְבָבְךָ֖ וּבְכָל־נַפְשֶֽׁך

And you will return to the LORD your God, and you and your children heed His command with all your heart and soul, just as I command you this day,
וְשָׁ֨ב יְהוָ֧ה אֱלֹהֶ֛יךָ אֶת־שְׁבוּתְךָ֖ וְרִחֲמֶ֑ךָ וְשָׁ֗ב וְקִבֶּצְךָ֙ מִכָּל־הָ֣עַמִּ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֧ר הֱפִֽיצְךָ֛ יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ שָֽׁמָּה׃

Then the LORD your God will facilitate your return and take you back in love. He will bring you together again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you.
אִם־יִהְיֶ֥ה נִֽדַּחֲךָ֖ בִּקְצֵ֣ה הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם מִשָּׁ֗ם יְקַבֶּצְךָ֙ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ וּמִשָּׁ֖ם יִקָּחֶֽךָ׃

Even if your outcasts are at the ends of the world, from there the LORD your God will gather you, from there He will fetch you.
וֶהֱבִֽיאֲךָ֞ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֗יךָ אֶל־הָאָ֛רֶץ אֲשֶׁר־יָרְשׁ֥וּ אֲבֹתֶ֖יךָ וִֽירִשְׁתָּ֑הּ וְהֵיטִֽבְךָ֥ וְהִרְבְּךָ֖ מֵאֲבֹתֶֽיךָ׃

And the LORD your God will bring you to the land that your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will make you more prosperous and more numerous than your fathers.
וּמָ֨ל יְהוָ֧ה אֱלֹהֶ֛יךָ אֶת־לְבָבְךָ֖ וְאֶת־לְבַ֣ב זַרְעֶ֑ךָ לְאַהֲבָ֞ה אֶת־יְהוָ֧ה אֱלֹהֶ֛יךָ בְּכָל־לְבָבְךָ֥ וּבְכָל־נַפְשְׁךָ֖ לְמַ֥עַן חַיֶּֽיךָ׃

Then the LORD your God will open up your heart and the hearts of your offspring to love the LORD your God with all your heart and soul, in order that you may live.
וְנָתַן֙ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ אֵ֥ת כָּל־הָאָל֖וֹת הָאֵ֑לֶּה עַל־אֹיְבֶ֥יךָ וְעַל־שֹׂנְאֶ֖יךָ אֲשֶׁ֥ר רְדָפֽוּךָ׃

The LORD your God will inflict all those curses upon the enemies and foes who persecuted you.
וְאַתָּ֣ה תָשׁ֔וּב וְשָׁמַעְתָּ֖ בְּק֣וֹל יְהוָ֑ה וְעָשִׂ֙יתָ֙ אֶת־כָּל־מִצְוֺתָ֔יו אֲשֶׁ֛ר אָנֹכִ֥י מְצַוְּךָ֖ הַיּֽוֹם׃

You will return and again heed the LORD and obey all His commandments that I enjoin upon you this day.
וְהוֹתִֽירְךָ֩ יְהוָ֨ה אֱלֹהֶ֜יךָ בְּכֹ֣ל ׀ מַעֲשֵׂ֣ה יָדֶ֗ךָ בִּפְרִ֨י בִטְנְךָ֜ וּבִפְרִ֧י בְהֶמְתְּךָ֛ וּבִפְרִ֥י אַדְמָתְךָ֖ לְטוֹבָ֑ה כִּ֣י ׀ יָשׁ֣וּב יְהוָ֗ה לָשׂ֤וּשׂ עָלֶ֙יךָ֙ לְט֔וֹב כַּאֲשֶׁר־שָׂ֖שׂ עַל־אֲבֹתֶֽיךָ׃

And the LORD your God will grant you abounding prosperity in all your undertakings, in the issue of your womb, the offspring of your cattle, and the produce of your soil. For the LORD will again delight in your well-being, as He did in that of your fathers,
כִּ֣י תִשְׁמַ֗ע בְּקוֹל֙ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ לִשְׁמֹ֤ר מִצְוֺתָיו֙ וְחֻקֹּתָ֔יו הַכְּתוּבָ֕ה בְּסֵ֥פֶר הַתּוֹרָ֖ה הַזֶּ֑ה כִּ֤י תָשׁוּב֙ אֶל־יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ בְּכָל־לְבָבְךָ֖ וּבְכָל־נַפְשֶֽׁךָ׃

Because you’ll be listening to the LORD your God and keeping His commandments and laws that are recorded in this book of the Teaching—once you return to the LORD your God with all your heart and soul.

After reading these verses this short prayer should be said:

"יהי רצון מלפניך, ה' אלוקי ואלוקי אבותיי, שתחתור חתירה מתחת כסא כבודך להחזיר בתושבה שלמה לכל פושעי עמך בית ישראל, ובכללם תחזירני בתשובה שלמה לפניך, כי ימינך פשוטה לקבל שבים, ורוצה אתה בתשובה. אמן סלה".

May it be Your Will the Lord my G-d and G-d of my fathers, that you may dig a tunnel under the throne of Your glory to return in complete repentance all the careless sinners of your nation Israel, with them bring me back in complete repentance, for Your right arm is outstretched to accept those who return and You want teshuva. Amen Selah.

5. The Book of Jonah the Prophet is all about teshuva and its purpose is to teach all future generations that teshuva works and can revoke evil decrees even when those decrees are for serious sins and this is true for non-Jews as well as Jews.

6. Repenting is a positive mitzvah mentioned in Parshat Nitzavim:  And you will return to the lord your G-d…For this Mitzvah which I command you today...”  The Ramban (Nachmanides) says ‘this mitzvah which I command you’ is the mitzvah of teshuva.

7. Confession of sins is verbalized and it’s called ‘Viduy’ (confession) which is also a positive mitzvah. According to Maimonides: “All mitzvoth of the Torah positive or negative if a man sins on any one of them intentionally or unintentionally, when he comes to repent he must confess before G-d Blessed be He, as it says: “A man or woman that does… and they shall confess the sin they did (Numbers 5, 5-7), this is an oral confession. This confession is a positive commandment.” (Maimonides, Laws of Repentance 1, 1)

8. It is said that in the place ‘Baalei Teshuva’ (those who repented) stand, the totally righteous cannot stand (Talmud, Berachot 34b). Maimonides says on this: A penitent should imagine he is distant from the attributes of the righteous because of his sins, it’s not so. Rather he is loved and desired before G-d as if he never sinned at all… not only that, but his reward is great for he tasted sin yet left it and overcame his evil inclination.” (Maimonides, Laws of Repentance 7, 4)

9. According to our sages it is sufficient that a person contemplate repenting and he is already considered righteous that moment. So much so that the Talmud says if a wicked man tells a woman “marry me on the condition that I’m totally righteous, the proposal of marriage which makes ‘Kiddushin’ a betrothal is considered at least a possibility and isn’t ruled out since perhaps this wicked man contemplated repenting. (Kiddushin 49b)

10. According to this approach it’s possible to overcome the evil inclination that tries to make repentance look too great an undertaking to attempt telling us it’s a long and drawn out process and almost impossible. For that reason our sages taught us that repentance which is mainly a strong desire to come back to G-d is possible in one moment too if it includes regret, confession and accepting not to repeat the sin. After regret, verbalize the sin and resolve not to repeat it in the future and in this way someone can get back on the straight path.
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