Baal Shem Tov TeachingsTeshuvah (Repentance)

Teachings of Rav Pinchas of Koritz

The Only True Teshuvah is Through Torah

Nowadays there is no way to do complete teshuvah for our sins without Torah study. This is because some sins can be atoned only through korbanos, offerings. Teshuvah is not enough.

How do we teshuvah without korbanos today? Through Torah study. Our Sages taught, citing the verse “This is the Torah of the burnt offering, of the minchah offering, and the sin offering…” (Vayikra 7:37), that now, when we can no longer offer sacrifices, someone who is obligated to offer a sacrificial offering should study the passages of Torah that correspond to that sacrificial offering (Menachos 110a). When we study those parts of the Torah, it’s as if we brought those offerings.

Imrei Pinchas, Aseres Yemei Teshuvah


Teshuvah Cannot Begin Without Torah

Rav Refael of Bershad, the disciple of Pinchas Koritzer, taught that the primary form of teshuvah is intense, increased Torah study. “Without this,” he explained, “teshuvah does not even begin!”

Imrei Pinchas, Aseres Yemei Teshuvah


Temporary Teshuvah: Reuniting the Prince and the King for an Hour

Once, after returning from a journey, Rav Pinchas Koritzer turned to his disciples and asked them, “What good is it to give mussar and help people do teshuvah if they end up returning to their former misdeeds and carry on sinning as they had before?”

He answered his own rhetoric with a parable:

There was once a prince who was captured by the enemy. His father, the king, pined away, wishing only to see his son again. If it were possible to free the prince and deliver him from bondage, how wonderful that would be! However, even if that were impossible to accomplish, and they could only manage to arrange for the prince to visit his father even just for an hour, and then the prince would have to return to his prison, would the king not happily rejoice that he had even just one hour in his beloved son’s presence?

“Similarly,” explained Rav Pinchas, “even if we cannot make these people repent fully and do complete teshuvah, if we can just give them a desire for repentance and feelings of regret for just one hour alone, that, too, is of great benefit.”

Imrei Pinchas, Aseres Yemei Teshuvah


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