Baal Shem Tov TeachingsTeshuvah (Repentance)

Teachings of Rav Yaakov Yitzchak Horowitz, the Chozeh of Lublin

The Tzaddik’s Torah Study Causes Others to Repent

The holy Chozeh of Lublin taught that when David HaMelech said, “Happy is he whose strength is in You, those whose hearts focus on upward paths” (Tehillim 84:6), he meant that when a Tzaddik sits and studies Torah liShmah, sincerely for the sake of Hashem, then he moves others to thoughts of repentance. Through his studies, he injects into their hearts the desire and motivation to do teshuvah.
This then is how we interpret the pasuk: Happy is he, the Tzaddik, whose strength is in You. He attaches himself to You, Hashem, through the Torah, which is called “oz” — Your strength — as it says, “Hashem shall give ‘oz’ [the Torah] to His people” (ibid. 29:11; see Zevachim 115a). By the Tzaddik attaching himself to Hashem through the Torah, he “focuses ‘hearts’ on upward paths” — he plows furrows and paths that lead the hearts of the people to teshuvah.
Similarly, the Yismach Moshe taught that when David HaMelech sang praises thanking Hashem (ibid. 111:1), he was saying that when you praise and thank Hashem, you cause an awakening of teshuvah within the hearts of others.
Ilana D’Chayi, Emor

Even Acher Could Have Repented

A heavenly voice rang out and proclaimed, “Return, My wayward children — all except for Acher [Elisha ben Avuyah]” (Chagigah 15a). Elisha ben Avuyah, also known as Acher (the “other” one), was an infamous heretic who was denied a portion in the World to Come.
Anyone with any sense, taught the holy Rav Yaakov Yitzchak of Lublin, realizes that if Elisha had responded to the heavenly voice that enjoined him to repent saying, “All the better! Now I can truly serve You sincerely, Hashem, with no thought of any reward and with no ulterior motives except to give You satisfaction and nachas because I am fulfilling Your will,” he would have achieved full atonement. He would have been completely forgiven and attained a lofty spiritual level.
Agra D’Pirka

The Real Sin of the Calf

Once, Rav Shraga Feivel of Gritza, the ancestor of the Rebbes who would one day establish the Alexander Dynasty, visited the Chozeh of Lublin. The Chozeh said, “Feivele, do you know what the sin of the golden calf was?” Reb Feivel answered that Bnei Yisrael had made a graven image and bowed to it and declared it their leader.
“You are mistaken,” said the Lubliner. “Their primary sin was that ‘they mourned’ (Shemos 33:4). They became sad and morose and fell into a depression after they sinned. They did not realize that they should have seized the opportunity and repented with joy in their hearts!”
Tiferes Yisrael

Teshuvah Before Study

A wicked person who doesn’t abandon his evil ways and repent is forbidden to study Torah… Regarding him the verse states, “To the wicked Hashem says, ‘What do you want with My book of laws?’ ” (Tehillim 50:16).
If, however, he repents before he begins learning Torah, then he merits to study with fear and awe on the level of Bnei Yisrael when they received the Torah on Mount Sinai.
Ma’or VaShemesh


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