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Two Forms of Teshuva: Part Six

Continued From An Unedited transcript of a Shiur: Reuven’s teshuvah is a re-examination of his being. It’s a change of his essence. The impetuous man has to become a thoughtful man. The one who sinned pachas kamayin, like water, is the one who has to think it out, deliberate and strategize how to do teshuvah. He changes his entire approach to life. That teshuvah G-d says, ah Harotzeh Bis’shuva – this is the kind of teshuvah I want, this is what I want. Yehudah does a magnificent act of teshuvah. He admits what he did, he’s not worried about embarrassment. He’s not worried about humiliation. He’s interested in truth. His very being compels him to do teshuvah and that is Chanun – the Gracious One, Hamarbeh lisloiach – who is abundant in forgiveness, but it’s not a teshuvah which is described as Haroitzeh Bis’shuva, teshuvah which is desired. One teshuvah is going to the core of the being, that’s a teshuvah that G-d desires. The other teshuvah is simply an expression, not simply, it is a very powerful expression of the goodness, the integrity of a Yehudah, but it doesn’t change, it doesn’t mean that Yehudah had even the opportunity to address himself at the core of his being. It’s a magnificent act of teshuvah and the celestial angels say Chanun – G-d is so gracious, Hamarbeh lisloiach – He is abundant in forgiveness if someone has such courage and such honesty and such integrity, but it’s not the same as the teshuvah of a Reuven.

So we have those two blessings: Haroitzeh Bis’shuvah – the song of the angels when they witness the teshuvah of Reuven, and Chanun Hamarbeh lisloiach – The Gracious One, Abundant in forgiveness. The song of the angels in response to the teshuvah of Yehuda. Two very different pacts of teshuvah.

And all of us I think need to spend our time before Rosh Hashanah, understanding that there are certain things we do for which we must repair on the Yehudah level. Meaning, there’s something that’s so inconsistent with us, with our beliefs, ideals, our goals and our basic integrity that we need to fix them, and for that G-d showers us Hamarbeh lisloiach, He showers us with atonement and forgiveness. And then there are things which our approach has to be the difference between life and death. The difference between I am putting that old me away and I am reaching out to create an entirely new me, as Reuven did. I will no longer be impetuous, I will be thoughtful and considerate, and that is a teshuvah to which G-d and the angels respond Haroitzeh Bis’shuva, this is a teshuvah that I want.

I would suggest that when we say the Oshamnu, Bogadu’s on Yom Kippur, we focus on the teshuvah of Reuven and when we do the al chet’s, the list of more specific sins or a more specific list, that we focus on the teshuvah of Yehuda, so that we can achieve both levels of teshuvah, and eventually reach a stage at which we understand, ki chedvas Hashem – it is the joy of G-d in our growth, our achievement and our reaching, hi mo’uschem – that is the source of our strength to grow, to achieve and to change ourselves so that we can have a deep and passionate and relationship with our Creator.

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