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What Is the Extent of Teshuva [Repentance]?

Article No. 02, Tav-Shin-Mem-Het, 1987-88

It is written (Hosea 14), “Return, O Israel, unto the Lord your God.” This means that the extent of Teshuva [repentance] is “unto the Lord your God.” However, we should understand the meaning of “unto the Lord your God,” for it implies that up to this place we must repent, and when arriving at that place he no longer needs to repent because he has returned to the place from which he came. We should understand what it means that a person walks away from a place and is told he must return to the place from which he came, which is called Teshuva [Teshuva means “returning”]. Accordingly, What is the place from which he went and to which he must return?

It is known that Kabbalists wrote that man’s soul is a part of God above, as it is written (“Introduction to The Book of Zohar,” Item 2), “Inquiry No. 3: This deals with what Kabbalists have said, that man’s soul is a part of God Above, in such a way that there is no difference between Him and the soul, but He is the ‘whole’ and the soul is a ‘part.’”

It is also written (“Introduction to The Book of Zohar,” Item 9), “And you find that in spirituality, the disparity of form acts like the ax that separates the corporeal things. From this we learn that since the will to receive His delight has been imprinted in the souls, that disparity of form that the souls acquired separates them from His essence. Through that disparity of form, the souls were separated from the Creator and became creatures.” It is also written (“Introduction to The Book of Zohar,” Item 11), “And the worlds cascaded onto the reality of this corporeal world, a place where there is a body and a soul, and a time of corruption and a time of correction.” And it is also written (“Introduction to The Book of Zohar,” Item 12), “And through Torah and Mitzvot [commandments/good deeds], they finally turn the form of the will to receive to be as the form of the will to bestow. Then they can receive all the good that is in the thought of creation. Along with it, they are rewarded with strong Dvekut [adhesion] with Him, because through the work in Torah and Mitzvot they have been rewarded with equivalence of form with their maker, which is deemed the end of correction.”

It therefore follows that all we need to do in this world is correct and qualify ourselves to be able to receive the delight and pleasure that exist in the thought of creation. Thus, by being created with a will to receive, which is opposite from the Creator, it is considered that a person has departed from the place. From what place? From the root, since the soul is a part of God above. It has departed because of the disparity of form from the Creator and has descended into this world so as to be clothed in a body.

It was mentioned above that in this world there is a time of corruption and a time of correction. Through the remedy of Torah and Mitzvot, that which was corrupted will be corrected. Since the corruption is only that the will to receive removes a person from the Creator, once a person engages in Torah and Mitzvot in order to receive the quality of the aim to bestow, which is called “equivalence of form,” it corrects the corruption.

By this we can understand the question, What is the place from which man emerged, as he is told that he should return to his place, which is called Teshuva? We should interpret that since the soul is a part of God above, and was removed from the Creator into being merely a part and not the whole, all this was because of the disparity of form. Therefore, when he corrects this through the power of Torah and Mitzvot with the intention that it will bring him the correction of the ability to do everything in order to bestow, he will naturally reconnect to the whole. This is called “Dvekut with the Creator,” and this is the extent that one should know how much he must work until he achieves Teshuva.

To this comes the answer, “Return, O Israel, unto the Lord your God.” “Your God” is said in singular form. That is, the will to receive that exists in man divides him into two authorities and he becomes removed from the Creator. When a person corrects himself and does everything in order to bestow, in this way he achieves Dvekut. It follows that the disparity of form divided man and removed him from his source. This is regarded as a person being removed from his place and that he has now returned to his place. This is called “your God,” in singular form, where nothing separates the Creator from the creature.

This is called Teshuva, when a person returns to his place, as he was prior to creation, when the soul was included in the whole. Subsequently, through the will to receive, she divided from the whole, and now the singular authority has been created and this is called Teshuva [returning]. This is the meaning of “Return, O Israel.” To what extent must he return? The prophet tells us, “unto the Lord,” until He becomes “your God,” the singular authority.

According to the above, we see that the writing wants to show us what is Teshuva. That is, the general public is taught to engage in Torah and Mitzvot Lo Lishma [not for Her sake]. There, in the general public, a person needs to repent for the act. That is, if a person takes care to observe Torah and Mitzvot with all its details and specifics, in this manner, a person must believe above reason that he has not done his duty in observing Torah and Mitzvot, and he always searches—perhaps he slandered or spoke idle words.

That is, if he wants to acquire wholeness, he is always busy looking into the work he does. But normally, a person does not see his own fault. Also, it is the same with humbleness, as our sages said, “be very, very humble.” In this, too, he searches for faults by which he will be able to tell himself that he is worse than others, since a person must be humble, and lying is certainly forbidden. Therefore, he is always concerned and thinks about finding some flaw in himself, so he will be able to say that he is worse than others.

Certainly, it is very difficult for a person in this state to repent. All he can say after all his efforts is that he might have prayed improperly, or perhaps slandered and did not notice. That is, he finds in himself a place where he can repent for sins he might have committed.

Also, about humbleness, he says, “Perhaps I am worse than others.” It turns out that his entire Teshuva is on a possible transgression. That is, he believes above reason that he probably still lacks wholeness. But, all this pertains to people who belong to the general public.

However, for people who belong in the individuals, whose aim is to be rewarded with Dvekut with the Creator, which is equivalence of form, meaning they want all their actions to be for the sake of the Creator, here begins a completely different order. Their gauge in Torah and Mitzvot is not necessarily the act. Rather, they want the intention to be for the Creator, too. That is, they do not settle for observing the Creator’s commandments only in action. They observe Torah and Mitzvot because the Creator commanded us to observe the Torah and Mitzvot, and not because the environment commits them to observe the Torah and Mitzvot. That is, they observe not so the environment will respect or disrespect them, and this is what obliges them to observe Torah and Mitzvot.

Rather, they do everything in concealment “with the Lord your God.” They do not demand from the environment respect and so forth, but rather want to observe the Torah and Mitzvot with the aim not to receive reward, but only for the sake of the Creator. They see that the body does not agree to this work. But since they want to achieve the truth, from above they are constantly shown the truth—according to the merit of their work—about how the will to receive is in oppositeness of form from the Creator. Yet, each time they overcome more forcefully in that they want to work only for the sake of the Creator.

That person does not see that he has any merit in spirituality. He sees that he is more materialized than the rest of the servants of the Creator who engage in Torah and Mitzvot. And the reason is, as said above, that it is because that person exerts more efforts to reach the truth. Then, he is shown from above the true state of the evil. At that time he sees that he is unable to help himself, and he has a need, called a Kli [vessel], that the Creator will help him emerge from the control of the evil within him.

It therefore follows that the words “Return, O Israel, unto the Lord your God” were said so that a person would not deceive himself and say, “I don’t see any sins in myself,” and may doubt that he has transgressions on which he needs to repent. This is why the verse says, “Return, O Israel.”

And should you ask, What is the extent of the Teshuva, so that I may know for certain that I must repent? The verse says to us in this regard, “Return, O Israel, unto the Lord your God.” That is, if he sees that he still has two authorities, meaning that he wants the Creator to give delight and pleasure to man’s authority, called “will to receive for himself,” then he knows for certain that he is removed from the Creator, that he has become a separate part from the whole, and he should do all that he can to return to his origin and root, meaning return to his place, which is called “the Lord your God.”

This means that there is only one authority—the authority of the Creator—as was said, “On that day, the Lord will be one, and His name One,” meaning one authority.

Inapoi la pagina 1988 (ŞLAVEY HASULAM (TREPTELE SCĂRII) – link

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