Seven Levels of Teshuva: Yitzchak Part One
Teshuva Reaches the Divine Throne
Reb Tzadok explains that this level of Teshuva fixes everything in the past as well1. This idea of the Throne being a symbol of going all the way back to the beginning is the meaning of the Midrash that says that the Divine Throne was created before the world.2 When one does Teshuva he literally goes back to the very beginning, even before creation.
The Midrash says that Moshe took the stone for the second Luchot from underneath the Divine Throne.3 These Luchot were the repair of the first set that was broken when the Jews sinned. The Midrash is once again using the Divine Throne as a symbol of fixing the past.
Reb Tzadok describes how the Divine Throne is a powerful symbol in Jewish thought. For example, the Talmud teaches4 that when Moshe went up to heaven to receive the Torah he was terrified of the angels. They were furious that God was going to give the Torah to human beings all of whom are imperfect. They wanted the Torah to remain in the holy heavens with them, beings who do not sin. God instructed Moshe to respond to them, but Moshe was scared of them. God said, “Grab onto My throne and you will be safe.”
The throne in this story is a symbol of Divine protection. It is also an indication of a place where human beings can go but angels cannot.
Teshuva that reaches the Divine Throne provides Divine protection. The Rambam5 says that Teshuva protects us from punishment for even the most serious sins. Teshuva not only allows us to start fresh through its healing powers, it also protects us from our past. Even incomplete Teshuva will afford us this protection.
It is not unusual for a person to feel that he is being punished for the sins of his past. This is a reflection of not understanding the protection provided by Teshuva. When someone does Teshuva it is as if he is holding on to the Divine Throne being protected by God. He does not have to walk around terrified that he will be or is being punished for his sins. Teshuva works. However a person must be aware of its effectiveness for Teshuva to function properly. Judaism emphasizes the importance of awareness of the power of our actions, and that actions with that awareness are all the more forceful as a result of that consciousness. We must be aware of the power of our Teshuva in order for it to be its most effective.
- Be aware of this power of Teshuva.
- When praying focus on verses and phrases that speak of God’s Throne; in the daily prayers we recite Yehi chivod, “May the glory of God endure forever.” The verse6 says, “Hashem bashamayim heichin kis’o,” “God has established His throne in the heavens.” Imagine that you are actually holding on to the throne through the power of your Teshuva. This is especially important during the Ten Days of Teshuva.
- Shabbat actually provides an even more powerful opportunity to use this power of Teshuva. The Shabbat Morning Prayer says, “Bayom Hashvi’I hitala v’yashav al kisei kivodo.” “Who ascended on the seventh day and sat on His Throne of Glory.” This means anthropomorphically that God sits on His throne on the Shabbat. The Shabbat, especially the one between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur offers the best opportunity to grab onto God’s Throne. Use this verse to imagine holding onto the throne.
- Use the entire Shabbat as an opportunity to do the same.
1 Takanat Hashavin
2 Bereishis Rabbah 1:4
3 Tanchuma Eikev 9
4 Shabbat 88b
5 Laws of Teshuva, Chapter 1, Halacha 4
6 Psalms 103:19