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Biblical Personalities: Reuben: Ma’or Va’Shemesh



“Reuben, you are my firstborn, my strength and my initial vigor, foremost in rank and foremost in power.” (Genesis 49:3) The Sages teach (Bereishit Rabbah 84:19) that Reuben was the first person to open the paths to Teshuva.

Jacob wanted to teach all those who would follow Reuben’s example and become Ba’alei Teshuva – Masters of Teshuva – that they should never believe that they have completed their Teshuva. A Master of Teshuva must be a person who is constantly in a state of doing Teshuva.

Jacob says, “You are my firstborn,” of Teshuva, “foremost in rank,” – “yeter s’eit’ – as in the spiritual blemish, ‘s’eit v’sapachat,’ (Leviticus 13:2), you must always keep your spiritual blemish foremost in your mind, so that you become ‘s’eit’ in the other snse of the word, ‘hitnasut’ to lift yourself up, to be elevated.

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