Teshuva Introduction: Restoration
This essay is dedicated by Erik and Aliza Pernikof-Frank to the memory of Harav Yisroel Meyer Ben Yaakov Yitzchak, a master teacher, rabbi, servant of God, husband and father, who guided many on their path back to God. His Yahrtzeit is Tuesday evening – Wednesday, the 16th of Tammuz:
The next blessing is that of Teshuva – Returning to God and Restoring Our Relationship. It’s the most perfect word to describe this blessing. But it’s not a specific act of Teshuva; it’s a state of being. There is a big difference: This is not that we want the ability to repent, but that we are constantly in a state of returning closer to our Source.
Hashiveinu Avinu l’Toratecha – “Bring us back, our Father, to your Torah.” Bring us back with wisdom. Once you understand more about what you were missing the day before, what you have lost by not being aware of it yesterday, V’karveinu Malkeinu la’avodatecha – “And bring us near, our King, to your service.”
But why must God bring us back closer to His Avodah? Prayer is not a one-way street. It’s a two-way relationship. It’s not “I ask, and God gives.” Prayer is not “I praise, and God enjoys.” Prayer goes beyond that. Prayer is the connection between the two. Prayer is greater than what I am asking God for, and is even greater than God’s response to me. The connection to the Almighty goes beyond what I said, or how God responds. That’s why Tefillah is referred to in certain verses as a brit, or a covenant. It’s an expression of what both parties are doing.
That’s why I keep speaking about using experiences to enhance your Tefillah. True prayer comes only after you’ve experienced growth, and it’s expressed relationship becomes even greater than the Tefillah itself. That’s part of the blessing of Hashiveinu.