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Seven Levels of Teshuva Moshe Part Two

Reb Tzadok1 presents a deeper explanation of this concept; God determines the general direction that we will take in our lives even before we are born. The direction is determined by God. We determine with our choices how we will get there. Each person will contribute to the world exactly what he is supposed to. His choices determine only the means he will use to make that contribution.

Reb Tzadok explains that people often look back at their mistakes and regret them, but also believe that they helped them grow. It is precisely at that moment that the person must acknowledge that God would have brought him to this point without his sins if he had made the correct choices. God is in control. He will help him develop as he should. He will grow in the same way or better if he makes the proper choices. If he can acknowledge God’s control at such moments, he can transform his sins into mistakes or even merit. He can fix everything he has done in the past. This level of Teshuva is the acknowledgement that God is in total control of our lives and is constantly guiding us to develop all of our abilities to their fullest potential.

This level of Teshuva, which acknowledges God’s complete control over our lives is also fundamental to dealing with the suffering of the Jewish people: Rabbeinu Yonah says2, “It is for him who trusts in God to hope, in the gloom of his anguish, that the darkness be the cause of light, as it is written, ‘Rejoice not against me, my enemy; though I am fallen I shall arise; though I sit in darkness, God is a light for me.3’ And our Sages of blessed memory have said, ‘If I had not fallen, I would not have risen; If I had not sat in darkness, it would not have been light unto me.’4 Rabbeinu Yonah is saying that the darkness is the cause of the ensuing light. We must learn to see our suffering as the source of the good that will follow. This is found also in the Yalkut Shimoni5:  “For he tore it and will heal it.” This can be compared to one who had a wound and his doctor opened it. Once the patient saw that his wound wasn’t healing he went to other doctors but couldn’t find a cure. One said to him, “Go to the doctor who opened the wound and he will heal it for you.” So too, says the prophet, you, the Jews, are looking for consolation in distant places. All you must do is repent and God Who punished you will heal you.  The Maharal explains6 that all the wounds inflicted by God are only to heal the ones who are ill. When God hits the Jews, so to speak, He is actually doing what is necessary to heal them. The time will come when we will have enough clarity to understand why all the suffering over the generations was necessary. We will see that it actually helped us. It was the fall that allowed us to rise. It was the darkness that helped us eventually receive God’s light. Ultimately, when we have this clarity, all the suffering of all the Tisha B’Avs will show itself to our benefit. At that time, not only will it cease to be a fast, it will be a day of gladness and rejoicing.  When we are able to call Tisha B’Av a festival, and not say Tachanun, we are declaring our belief in the principle as laid out by Rabbeinu Yonah; “We believe that all this suffering itself is good and the root for all the good that will follow.”

Practical Steps:

  • The most important verse of Ashrei7 is Poseiach et yadecha U’masbia l’chol chai ratzon.8 “You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” One must concentrate on Divine Providence.9 Use this verse to acknowledge God’s control of your development.
  • Apply this concept to the second blessing of the Amidah which focuses on God’s control of the world.

1 Takanat Hashavin (Based on the Ari)

2 Shaarei Teshuvah, Second Gate Paragraph 5

3 Micha 7:8

4 Midrash Tehillim, Psalm 22

5 Hosea 6

6 Netzach Yisrael chapter 61

7 Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 52

8 Psalms 145:16

9 Rambam, Yad Hachazaka, Nusach Birchat Hamazon

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