Baal Shem Tov TeachingsTeshuvah (Repentance)

Teachings of Rav Menachem Nachum of Chernobyl

Teshuvah through Shabbos

Teshuvah can be attained only by safeguarding Shabbos, because a person cannot truly repent fully without Shabbos. This is because Shabbos, whose letters can be rearranged to spell teisheiv, “repent,” is a time that draws a person closer to Hashem and reconnects him to his Maker.
Me’or Einayim, Ki Seitzei
 

Teshuvah beyond Space and Time

Our Sages taught (Kiddushin 49b) that if a woman was betrothed to someone on the condition that he was a Tzaddik and they find that he is actually wicked, this is not grounds to dissolve the betrothal. They are still considered betrothed, because there is the slightest doubt regarding his status: perhaps he had thoughts of sincere repentance when he married her.
We see that in a single second, with just one fleeting thought of teshuvah, a person can be considered a Tzaddik! The reason for this is because teshuvah preceded the creation of the world (Pesachim 54a), which was created through speech, through Hashem’s recitation of the ten utterances of the Creation (“Let there be light,” etc.). Whatever preceded the world’s creation also preceded speech. Before speech there was only thought. In that case, teshuvah, which preceded the Creation, must be connected to thought, which also preceded the Creation. He who repents therefore returns to his root source above all the worlds and rectifies all of creation…
Since teshuvah is connected to thought, and it is beyond creation, even just one single thought of teshuvah rectifies any corruption he might have brought about in this world with his misdeeds.
Me’or Einayim
 

Instantaneous Teshuvah

This world operates by time. Before Creation, there was no concept of time at all. Since teshuvah preceded the Creation, it is above time, and therefore teshuvah’s power of rectification can occur in no time at all, even in a split second.
Whoever thinks that the process of teshuvah is a time-consuming, lengthy affair is mistaken. He must believe with complete faith that he can repair everything in an instant. This is what our Sages meant when they said, “And if not now, when?” (Avos 1:14). If a person fools himself into thinking that he cannot repair whatever damage he has done through teshuvah now, in this instant, because he thinks that teshuvah is a lengthy process, when will he ever succeed in repairing what he has damaged? Even if he spends all the days of his life, as many days as there are grains of sand falling through an hourglass, repairing his sins, he will never succeed in doing teshuvah because such thoughts prevent him from doing true teshuvah. Know that teshuvah is above time, and in one instant you can rectify everything!
Me’or Einayim

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