Seven Levels of Teshuva: Yitzchak Part Four
Yitzchak, Gevura and the Divine Throne:
Yitzchak’s attribute was Gevurah, strength. A more accurate translation is specificity. Yitzchak did not want to
simply copy his father’s relationship with God. He wanted his own unique relationship. This idea is exactly the same as the concept of the Divine Throne; one’s unique mission in the world and specific relationship with God.
The Midrash says that once Avraham’s knife touched Yitzchak’s throat he died. When Yitzchak’s soul heard the angel say, “Don’t send your hand against the child,” his soul was restored and he came back to life. Yitzchak experienced Techiat Hameitim, resurrection of the dead. At that moment he said, “Baruch Ata Hashem, Michayei Hameitim.” “Blessed are You God Who restores life to the dead.”1 Yitzchak heard the voice of the angel come from between the two Cherubim which are positioned directly under the Divine Throne.2
Yitzchak is the only person in the Torah with whom God associated His name while the person was still alive.3 This is because Yitzchak had experienced death and would never sin.4 Yitzchak was constantly conscious of his ashes gathered on the altar and they prevented him from ever sinning.
The Rambam5 describes a similar theory about one who has repented: “What is considered a complete Teshuva? One who finds himself in the same place, with the same woman, the same passion and intensity and does not repeat his sin because of Teshuva. It is not because it is a different woman. It is not due to lack of passion. He does not repeat the sin because of Teshuva. The One Who Knows All Secrets will testify about this person that he will never repeat this sin. This is exactly what the Midrash said about Yitzchak. This level of Teshuva is to literally experience Techiyat Hameitim, resurrection of the dead, rebirth to the point that the bad does not exist anymore at all. It is to be so strongly attuned to the source of my individual relationship with God, that God says about me that I will not repeat this sin.
We described earlier how the lowest form of Vidui, or confession, is to talk something out. The next level is to talk yourself through the process of Teshuva and to constantly remind yourself that you are doing Teshuva. The Ibn Ezra says that the mouth is the most powerful instrument for doing Teshuva.6 You must remind yourself over and over that you are doing Teshuva. This must reach the point at which you do not repeat the sin because you are doing Teshuva, not because of any external circumstances.
Repeating the confession on Yom Kippur that I recite each year is not doing Teshuva. I must use the confession to fortify my Teshuva. I must say, “I am doing Teshuva for this. This is how the sin took me away from the source of my existence. This is how it deprived me of my unique relationship with God. This is how is denied me the memory of crawling around God’s feet, so to speak.
1 Chapters of Rabbi Eliezer, chapter 30
2 Tanchuma, Vayakhel 7
3 ibid. Toledot 7
4 This is according to the explanation of the Rabanan.
5 Laws of Teshuva, Chapter 2, paragraph 1
6 Devarim 30:14