Friday, August 9, 2013

3 Elul: Repentance

The four steps of Teshuvah (Repentance) as devised by Maimonides
  1. Stop the sin 
  2. Regret
  3. Verbalize (confess to G-d)
  4. Make a plan to avoid the sin again
Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your kindness; according to Your great mercies, erase my transgressions. - Psalms Chapter 51

I just listened to a lecture by Mrs. Shira Smiles about Teshuvah and Repentance.  First of all, they aren't exactly the same thing.  (This is the problem with translating from Hebrew, there isn't always a fully appropriate English word because some Hebrew words are concepts that just don't translate well.)  Repentance according has to do with feelings of regret for a past action.  This is an aspect of Teshuvah, whose root word comes from the Hebrew word for return.  

When we do Teshuvah, according to Mrs Smiles, we are returning to a connection with G-d and to our true natures.  She explains that people are inherently good and that deep in our souls we want to be good, sometimes we stumble by following our evil inclinations (Yetzer HaRah).  

The four steps outlined by Maimonides is pretty much what we do with little kids if they steal a chocolate bar or break someone's window.  Parents make them confess their wrongdoing and apologize for it.  Parents may even suggest a plan to make things right, such having the child do chores to pay off the damage, for example. 

In the above example, the child was caught, and pretty much forced to apologize and repay the damages.  Our relationship with G-d is much different.  It feels very one sided because we don't actually see G-d or hear His voice.  We have faith He is listening and watching over us.  

Many sins go unnoticed.  Who will know if you switched on a light on Shabbat or what is in your fridge?  We know the difference between right and wrong.  The process of Teshuvah begins when we become aware that we actually have been caught.  

This is my post based on writing prompts for Elul.  Please join me and link your page in the comments section.

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