Monday, October 27, 2008

Teshuva Permeated with Happiness

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. [...]

Shabbos Parshas Noach emphasizes that this service must be characterized by happiness, for we are in the aftermath of the month of Tishrei, a month of festivals. Thus it indicates that our service of teshuvah must also be permeated with happiness.


Sicha of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, parshas Noach 5752 (1992)

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