Heartfelt Repentance


The Torah teaches us that at nightfall, and at dawn, we search well into the nature of our dealings. Let your dealings bring no blush upon the cheek; commit no sin in the expectation of repentance, Teshuva in Hebrew. At first, sin is an indifferent stranger; later a?welcome guest, finally the master. Better to suffer the?derision of man?than to be a sinner in the eyes of God.
If a person violates one of the Commandments of the Almighty whether on purpose or by accident then he will do repentance and he is obligated to confess his misdeeds before God with words by saying that he has wilfully sinned.
He regrets and he is ashamed of his misdeeds and he will never return to do them again and he has a deep feeling in his heart that he really wants to change.
In fact, repentance exercises a purely spiritual appeal which is uniquely strong because it responds to one of the profoundest longings of the human soul to free oneself from all mundane exigencies and distractions; to shut out alike the engrossing call of work and the allure of pressure, and rising above physical appetites and the disturbing trivialities of the daily routine; to take refuge within the sanctuary of God to penetrate into the Holy of Holies, into the secret places of the soul.
Now what is Teshuva, repentance? It is when a sinner leaves his sin and he determines in his heart that he will not do it anymore. According to Rambam’s laws of complete repentance, when the opportunity to sin comes again to the person and it is possible for him to sin, he separates and does not sin because he sees that it is wrong, not because of any fear or weakness.
There are different kinds of sins which are forgiven immediately and other kinds of sins which are not forgiven until after a period of time.
If a person does repentance, it immediately brings those closer, who were estranged and abominable; they become friends.
There is a repentance which comes from fear and there is a repentance which comes from love.
In Judaism, there are three categories of sin — chait, avon and pesha.
Chait is when we say that we have missed the mark, as an archer might miss his target. Chait is an error, a mistake or a case of missing the target without harming others.
When we say that we have committed avon, it means iniquity, which connects with a wilful twisting and distorting of the will of God for selfish ends. When we say that we have committed a pesha, it means a wilful transgression done to spite God and ‘going beyond the limits’ of God’s Torah, law.
If a person does repentance, it is sorrow for sin with self-condemnation, and a complete turning away from these three categories of sin, even though he did them deliberately will be changed into merits. Before we do repentance, we must admit our guilt and realise that God is watching us.
The repentance of the heart comes because a person has had a complete reorientation.
It is as if he is reborn again and does not want to do evil or bad things anymore.
Teshuvah, tefillah, and tzedakah — repentance, prayer and charity avert the evil decree because they together constitute what is necessary for us to live good lives.
Teshuva reminds us that we have control over ourselves. We can change. Tefillah says that we can have relationships, a relationship with God and a relationship with man.
Charity says that we can help the poor. We can alleviate human suffering.
We need all three simultaneously, otherwise we, too, will do evil.
Let us all hope and pray that we do repentance with love from our heart and soul, so that God forgives us for all our sins. We will be truly shining lights not only to ourselves and to our family but to the whole world.
-Ezekiel Isaac Malekar