Monday, September 01, 2008

CALL TO TSHUVA (with happiness and pleasure)

Although Torah law teaches us that we can assume that every member of the Jewish people conducts himself in a proper manner, this applies when thinking about the conduct of a colleague. In regard to one's conduct, we cannot rely on this assumption and from time to time, each person must go through a process of introspection in which he carefully examines his thought, speech, and action with the intent of correcting and perfecting his conduct. This should lead to an actual change in his behavior, for "Deed is most essential."

These concepts are reflected in the service of teshuvah. Although "the essence of teshuvah is in the heart," for teshuvah to be complete it must affect one's deeds. In particular, this is reflected in the sphere of interpersonal relations, when in addition to feeling remorse for one's previous deeds and resolving to conduct oneself in a proper way in the future, one must right the wrong which he committed, e.g., if one stole, one must return the stolen object. Furthermore, it is necessary to appease one's colleague and arouse positive feelings.

There are two approaches to the just account of one's conduct mentioned above. One involves focusing one's attention on the particular weaknesses and failings evident in one's behavior. The other places the emphasis on involvement in positive activity, thrusting oneself into the service of Torah and mitzvos with renewed energy. In this way, all negative factors will be nullified for "a little light (-- and how much more so, much light --) banishes much darkness."

Ultimately, there should be a fusion of both services, that a person's focus of attention to his past conduct be included in a process of growth and development that is intended to lift one to a higher and more elevated rung.

When one approaches this just account in this fashion, one's feelings are not centered on bitterness or sorrow -- although one is aware of problems that must be corrected. One is involved in a process of striving to ascend upward and this is the focus of one's emotions. Furthermore, one appreciates that the reason for one's descent is to come to the service of teshuvah, to demonstrate that regardless of the situation a Jew finds himself in, he still shares an essential connection with G-d. For these reasons, the just account mentioned above will be accompanied by feelings of happiness and pleasure.

Every individual may realize that his own service is lacking and, in need of correction. This, however, does not affect the status of the service required of the Jewish people as a whole over the course of the generations. In the latter context, we must be conscious, as the Previous Rebbe stated, that all the service necessary has been completed and we are "ready to receive Mashiach." There is no explanation why his coming is being delayed.

Therefore, even if there is a particular dimension of service which is lacking and which is delaying the coming of the Redemption, this does not diminish the fact that as a whole, our service is complete and we are ready for the Redemption. Although these particular elements of service must also be completed, this does not detract from the service of the Jewish people as a whole. On the contrary, the fact that as a whole, we are prepared for the Redemption makes it easier for us to complete all the individual elements of our service and to do so with happiness.

To explain the concept in an analogy: When a person is healthy as a whole, if he has a small ailment in one of his limbs, it can easily be cured. Similarly, since as a whole, our service has been completed, teshuvah which is described as "healing" can cure all the particular difficulties of the Jewish people.

Sicha of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Noach 5752

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