The Seven Levels of Teshuva: Avraham Part One
“God, my Lord, I cried out to You and You healed me.”1 The healing described is actually atonement from sins after one has repented.2 This is healing of the soul.3
“I will heal you from your backsliding.”4
“He is the Healer of the broken-hearted, and the One Who binds up their sorrows.”5 God heals those who are broken hearted (from their sins).6
There is a certain amount of psychological healing in Teshuva. It is a tremendous relief to be able to heal my soul and fix my mistakes.
The Talmud7 teaches that “Reshaim maleih charatah”, “Wicked people are filled with guilt.” There are people who believe that guilt expunges their sins. They feel guilty and they are convinced they have rid themselves of sin.
I remember hearing this quote when I was just Bar Mitzvah and in Yeshiva in Scranton, PA. It was between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and of course I was feeling very guilty about all my horrible sins. When I heard one of the rabbis quote this Gemara in order to criticize those who were walking around feeling guilty, it made me feel even guiltier. “Oh no, I must be one of those wicked people because I feel guilty!”
That is obviously not the intention of the Talmud. However, our sins definitely make us feel guilty and too much guilt can make us sick. Teshuva helps us deal with that guilt in a healthful manner.
The verse in Proverbs8 says, “Daaga b’lev ish, yashchena,” “If there is worry in a man’s heart he should yashchena.” The Talmud offers two explanations of yashchena. The first is, yasiach ota, talk about it. If you are worried about something discuss it with someone else. That can often help you process you concerns and gain perspective. It often helps just to speak about a worry even if you don’t find a solution. “I need to get it off my chest!”
My rebbi9 explains that the first step of Vidui, confession, is simply to talk about my mistakes and get them out of my system. Teshuva, using the Vidui helps someone get his concerns out of his system and provides some relief.
The second explanation of yashchena is yasiach ota midatah, if you are worried stop thinking about it. Teshuva provides the means to deal with something and then let go so that you can stop worrying about it. This is another very basic form of the healing powers of Teshuva.
- Use the Vidui to express your spiritual worries. Get it off your chest.
- Trust that Teshuva works and that God has forgiven you so that you can stop worrying about your mistakes.
- There is an extra paragraph that can be found in the Artscroll siddur to be inserted into the blessing of Shema Koleinu in the Amidah10. Use the context of God hearing our voices as an opportunity to speak about your concerns for your spiritual life.
- When praying for forgiveness in the sixth blessing of the Amidah trust that God forgives those who repent and that you no longer must worry about your sins.
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