Monday, September 22, 2014

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How Do You Do Teshuva?

Some Torah from Rav Shalom Arush, shlita, is being made available to us to share.  We’ll be publishing, with some edits as appropriate for our audience.

on Mystical Paths, Torah by Rav Shalom Arush, shlita

How do you do tshuvah (repent – reconnectc with G-d)? Many think that tshuvah is something very difficult, but really it’s not true. Tshuvah is something very easy… for someone with emuna, that is. All of tshuva involves speaking with Hashem. Like the prophet says: “take with you things and return to Hashem”. ‘Things’ are words [in Hebrew come from the same root word], simple words. Like the midrash says: ‘Words is what I request and I will forgive all of your sins’. For a person without emuna, repentance really is very hard. For anyone who has emuna, it’s very easy – just open your mouth and talk with Hashem, ask Him to help you and bring you to repentance. Tell him what you did and ask forgiveness. That’s it! This is what the Gamara says – that Hashem, may He be blessed, caused King David to sin, because He knew that he’d do tshuva and teach the whole world the proper way of repentance. What is this way of repentance of Dovid HaMelech? Just to speak with Hashem. The whole book of Tehilim is a tiny sample of the conversations of King David with Hashem. This is the way of tshuvah that King Dovid showed the whole world.

If so, tshuva depends on simple emuna. The big “gift” of Rosh HaShana is that we receive the power to start to repent, and the way of repentance – prayer and emuna, is opened up to us. This is what Rebbe Natan of Breslev writes in Likutei Halachot: “The main start of all of the rectifications is through Rosh Hashana – specifically Rosh (head), because Rosh Hashana is the first of the ten days of tshuva. Really the start of tshuva and rectification is very hard. It’s very hard to find the ‘head’ – where to begin, because, in general, all of the rectifications and bits of advice depend one on another and because of this it’s hard to find where to begin… Because of our many sins we lost the advice, even the advice itself is very difficult for us to fulfill. This is explained in the words of the Rebbe (Rebbe Nachman of Breslev) in another place. Therefore the main beginning (rosh –head) of all of the rectifications in the world is through Rosh Hashana. This is why it’s called Rosh Hashana, because from it is comes the essential ‘head’ – the power to begin, to enter into the service Hashem. It’s the first day of the 10 days of tshuva, the beginning of tshuva and rectification”.

A lot of people want to return to Hashem in tshuva and their main difficulty is where to begin. It looks to them that to start repentance is so hard, because “all beginnings are hard”. In the end they see that a lot of things depend one on another and they don’t know how to begin. On Rosh Hashana, however we’re given the rosh, the head, we’re given the understanding of how to get started.

According to this, we can understand the words of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev in Likutei Moharan that on Rosh Hashana three heads are brought together: Rosh Hashana – the head of time, the tzadik – the head of the Jewish people (Rebbe Nachman), and the head of each individual. On Rosh Hashana shines a very wonderful mentality, through which a person can receive “head” – the wisdom, understanding and knowledge to know how to enter into the ways of repentance.

Prepare Yourself

Every person can merit this – to clean the slate and start a new page, to receive a “head” of repentance, of holiness and purity. It’s all according to your preparation. This is true for every Holiday or Shabbat . If you want to draw on yourself the light of the holiday and its wondrous rectifications, then you need to prepare yourself ahead of time. This is especially true before this holiday, Rosh Hashana, on which shines the wonderful understanding of how to begin in the ways of repentance. Every one of us needs to prepare himself for the holiday to receive the wondrous knowledge that is given forth, the mindset of beginnings – how to return to Hashem in repentance.

The question is how can we prepare ourselves for such a big day? We understand the preparations of the Jewish people as a whole in prayers and slichot. Beyond this, however, each person needs to prepare himself individually with hitbodedut (personal prayer in his own words) everyday, starting already from now, to receive Rosh Hashana with total emuna, with tremendous joy, with holiness and purity, and that he should really believe that this is the beginning of his repentance like Rebbe Natan explained.

“The wise man’s eyes are in his head” to know that these days before Rosh Hashana are days that are especially conducive for this purpose, particularly the last day of the year on which everything stands. If he’ll merit to fully utilize the last day of the year for tshuva, then he’ll merit to come to Rosh Hahana as a tzadik gamor – completely righteous and certainly start his judgment from a good place. Therefore everyone needs to free his time on the day before Rosh Hashana to use this time for prayer and repentance. Prepare yourself the day before the holiday – don’t wait until the last minute. Prepare everything in advance. The shopping and all of the arrangements, cut your nails, get a haircut, get some rest. Do all if this before hand – don’t wait until the day before Rosh Hashana. Do everything possible to free up the time on the last day of the year, because everything goes after the finish. If you’ll merit finishing the year in repentance, you’ll have a good start for a good sweet year…

…may all of the judgments be sweetened and may all of the Jewish people merit a truly sweet new year.

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