Baal Shem Tov TeachingsTeshuvah (Repentance)

Teachings of Rav Moshe Chaim Efraim of Sudilkov

Teshuvah Depends on the Gedolim

I received a tradition from the disciples of my holy grandfather the Ba’al Shem Tov that the gedolim of the generation have the ability to purify the souls of Bnei Yisrael that have become sullied.

These souls have become filthy with the vile impurity of their sins, and so all the primary ways of teshuvah (whether confession, fasting, or crying) require the guidance of the leaders of the generation (who serve as a bridge to the upper worlds).

Degel Machaneh Efarim, Tazria


The Light of Torah Shines Through Teshuvah

Each and every Jew has his roots in the Torah — his own letter (that is, there are six hundred thousand archetypal souls, which correspond to the six hundred thousand letters of the Torah). When a person sins, Heaven forbid, he blemishes his corresponding letter in the Torah and dims its light. And when he returns to the proper path he had previously traveled and repents, he shines the light of the Torah anew.

Degel Machaneh Efraim, Ki Sissa


Sowing Seeds of Teshuvah

Our Sages taught that when someone repents out of love, his intentional sins are transformed into merits (Yoma 86b). This can be compared to seeds planted in the ground. When a seed is sown, it must first break down and decompose before a plant can grow from it. The same is true for one who repents out of love.

Degel Machaneh Efraim, Likutim


Banishing the Darkness

When a person sins, he blemishes the spiritual light of his soul, which is drawn from the holy supernal light of the Torah, and his light is transformed into darkness, Heaven save us! When he truly repents, the light shines on him once more. As I heard from my holy grandfather the Ba’al Shem Tov, just as the darkness vanishes and is no longer discernible when a person brings a candle into a dark room, the same is true of a person who does teshuvah: although he was plunged into darkness by his sins, when he shines the light of the Torah on himself, the darkness vanishes completely without a trace.

Degel Machaneh Efraim, Likutim


Praying for Sinners

I heard from my grandfather the holy Ba’al Shem Tov that when a person has sins that are left over from his previous lives (known as gilgulim, or incarnations), when he prays for the welfare of other sinners he rectifies those misdeeds.

Degel Machaneh Efraim, Likutim



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