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Pirkei Avot 6:2: Teshu’ot Chen: Gates to Teshuvah Print E-mail

Pirkei AvotEvery single day a heavenly voice emanates from Mount Horeb, proclaiming and saying, “Woe to them, to the people, because of their insult to the Torah!” For whoever does not occupy himself with the Torah is called, “Rebuked,” as it is said, “As a golden ring in a swine’s snout is a beautiful woman who turns away from good judgment (Proverbs 11:22).” [Avot 6:2]


The 50 gates of wisdom are simultaneously 50 gates of Repentance, for there are 50 ways to return to the Holy One and come closer to Him. Six of these are elucidated in the name of the Ari haKadosh. We shall mention two of them briefly. They are as follows:

The first is contentment with a minimum of worldly pleasures. One contemplates his own exceeding inferiority relative to the King of Kings, the Holy One, and he becomes satisfied with the frugal existence which would have been impossible without such meditation. He is happy to live like that in order not to be distracted by worldly matters so as to devote more time to the service of God and to return to Him closely.

The second Gateway of repentance is that of pride. To be sure, here again the solid base is humility. What is meant, however, is the kind of pride ascribed to King Yehoshafat, “And his heart was lifted up in the ways of God (II Chronicles 17:6).” When man contemplates his lowliness in comparison to God, he begins to understand that a lifetime of serving Him will not be sufficient to repay Him for even one of His favors.

And so it is with all of the 50 gates, each of them dealing with a specific way of returning to God. The 50th and highest gate is all-pervasive, in the sense that all the others contain an element of its main feature, which is, digging a tunnel beneath the Throne of His Glory.

Our sins alienate us from our Father in Heaven. This “obstructive partition” is the cause of our forgetting to return to Him. But God “digs a tunnel” beneath His Throne while concealing its existence from the “accusers.” This opening serves as a reminder to transgressors to repent for their sins, for “there is no forgetting you for the Throne of Glory.”

This tunnel is also the cause for the repentance thoughts that are a daily occurrence to everyone. The wise man whose “eyes are in his head (Ecclesiastes 2:14),” will take advantage of it and keep a watchful eye on his affairs, ensuring thereby his return to God in perfect repentance. The fool, however, “repeats his folly (Proverbs 26:11),” And diverged his attention to empty talk or to drinking wine. I heard a similar thought in the name of the Baal Shem Tov explaining the matter of the Heavenly Voice that goes forth every day from Mount Horeb. (Rav Gedaliah of Linitz; Teshuot Chen, Shofetim)

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