Tshuvah Class 1

This is the Zeman Tshuvah - זמן תשובה - Period of Tshuvah.

Zeman translates as period of time as well as opportunity.

Tshuvah is usually translated as Repentance. This is a corruption. It is meant to translate as Return Hey or Return to HaShem. We will discuss this more below and in other classes during this Zeman.

We need to know one thing that the Kabbalah teaches in order to start on the path of Teshuvah. The one thing is that the midrash teaches that there were 7 things created prior to Creation. One of these is Teshuvah. This means that man was expected to make mistakes or Sins in the religious language.The question is Why did Hashem expect Man to Make Mistakes?

One answer is that there is only one way to learn - we learn from our mistakes.

Wait a second, don't we learn also from books, and teachers, etc? Don't we learn what is the right thing to do from these other ways of learning. The answer comes from the Pirkei Avot who list the 48 Ways to acquire Torah. Not to learn Torah. But to assimilate Torah into your soul. Learning from Books and Teachers is a lower level than making a mistake and acquiring the memory to NOT DO THAT MISTAKE AGAIN!

Another reason that Tshuvah was created prior to the Creation of the world has to do with the cause and effect involved with reincarnation. The Baal Shem Tov teaches that the reason someone develops a hatred for another is because they have the soul spark of that person captured within their own negativity. That is the reason a mistake is made with respect to another person and then Tshuvah allows the release of that soul spark. This was the relationship between the Baal Shem Tov and the Gaon De Vilna, that cause the Gaon to excommunicate the Baal Shem Tov for a short period of time. This teaching comes through the Book "You are Who You Hate" by Sarah Yehudit Schneider.

Zeman Tshuvah

This is the period of time, the opportunity, to return to HaShem. What period of time am i refering to: The ten weeks from Shabbat Nachamu until Shabbat Beraishit. Actually, most of these 10 weeks are included in The Months of Elul and Tishrai. Why are these two months that opportunity to return to God?

Another period of time is the period of Shovavim. This is the 6 weeks (sometimes 8) where the Parashiot of Shemot, Va'Era, Bo, Beshallach, Yitro, and Mishpatim are read in the synagogue. Shovavim is an acronym for these six Parashiot. In leap years there is an additional two weeks which include the Parashiot of Terumah and Tetzaveh. Shovavim is a Hebrew word that means a mischievousness child. It is a period that deals with Teshuva from ideas of sexual impropriety and creative errors. The Sephira of Yesod is being corrected.

There are other periods that correct other Sephirot that we have damaged through our mistakes. In effect any day is a good day for Teshuvah. Let us continue discussing the well-known period of the month of Elul etc.

One physical reason is that Elul is the sixth month of the Hebrew Calendar year and Tishrai is the 7th month. The 7th month is Malchut in the frame of the Sephirot, while Elul is Yesod. Yesod and Malchut are meant to be in continuous Zvug (intercourse) with each other. They are not in continuous zvug due to man's mistakes. Yet man's mistakes are an illusion so they are always in continuous zvug. That is why i will be teaching these two months as one Zeman.

Meaning of Tshuvah תשוב ה

Please read a quick discussion by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman on the meaning of Tshuvah. This will help set the intellecutal and practical tone for the beginning of the spiritual work. In a later class we will bring you practical examples of how to do this work.

  • Defining Tshuvah and the practical aspects of doing Tshuvah - (the recording will only read to the section titled Sin)

  • Now let's see a more Torah literal understanding of Tshuvah. Please read a quick discussion by Rabbi Ginsburg on the meaning of Tshuvah. This will help set the tone for the beginning of the spiritual work. In a later class we will bring you practical examples of how to do this work.

  • Discussing Tshuvah and the Haftara of Shabbat Shuvah.

  • Now let's take a close look at this Haftara and how it tells us what and how to achieve Tshuvah.

    The scroll actually has an opening indicating a paragraph that starts at verse and finishes at verse 10. There are 3 additional verses added to the Haftara which we do not need to review here.

    Translation of Hosea Chapter 14 Verse 2 to 10

    14:2 Return, O Israel, unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast stumbled in thine iniquity.

    Chanoch Commentary

    The first word is Return which indicates to us the procedure Tshuvah begins here with the confession of our "stumble" or mistake.

    14.3 Take with you words, and return unto the LORD; say unto Him: 'Forgive all iniquity, and accept that which is good; so will we render for bullocks the offering of our lips.

    Chanoch Commentary

    Speak words is the road to return to HaShem. Our lips will deliver our sacrifice and HaShem will know that our remorse is "good."

    14.4 Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses; neither will we call any more the work of our hands our gods; for in Thee the fatherless findeth mercy.

    Chanoch Commentary

    Horses is a code word for the physical. Asshur is a code word for mental and logic. Our "mistake" can not be corrected by logic or physical actions. We must connect to our "Father" who is HaShem.

    Chanoch Commentary

    14.5 I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely; for Mine anger is turned away from him

    Chanoch Commentary

    Once we start the words HaShem will help complete the healing of the world that is needed due to our mistakes. Back Sliding is referring to the concept of Back to the Future.

    Chanoch Commentary

    14.6 I will be as the dew unto Israel; he shall blossom as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.

    Chanoch Commentary

    Dew is a code word for the coming of Mashiach; The lily is a reference to Israel after Mashiach and Lebanon is indicating our emotions will be corrected.

    Chanoch Commentary

    14.7 His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive-tree, and his fragrance as Lebanon

    Chanoch Commentary

    This verse refers to the process of Peace evolving from the Tshuvah of the Nation of Israel.

    Chanoch Commentary

    14:8 They that dwell under his shadow shall again make corn to grow, and shall blossom as the vine; the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon.

    Chanoch Commentary

    This verse is explaining about the relationships between the Human Species and their souls along with the other species created by HaShem.

    14.9 Ephraim shall say: 'What have I to do any more with idols?' As for Me, I respond and look on him; I am like a leafy cypress-tree; from Me is thy fruit found.

    Chanoch Commentary

    This verse is referring to the return of the 10 Lost Tribes and their return to HaShem after Israel does its Tshuvah.

    14.10 Who so is wise, let him understand these things, who so is prudent, let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right, and the just do walk in them; but transgressors do stumble therein.

    Chanoch Commentary

    This verse refers to the restoration of the Tree of Life and putting all of the Sephirot into their correct relationship to each other.

    Sages Writings about Teshuva

    Recommended Modes of Conduct as Part of the Teshuva Process:

    In the second chapter of Hilchot Teshuva (Halacha 4), the Rambam (Rabbi Moshe Maimonides, Spain-Egypt, 1135-1204) describes the way a person should conduct himself as part of the process of repentance (listen to audio for precise citation). A penitent sinner should accustom himself to cry and pray to God for forgiveness, donate money to charity to the greatest possible extent, and distance himself from the matter regarding which he had committed the sin. Additionally, under certain circumstances it is advisable for a person to go so far as to change his name, in order to convey to himself the psychological message that he is no longer the same person as the one who had transgressed. Finally, the Rambam writes that "Galut," literally "exile" or relocation, is a beneficial means of atonement. Taking residence in a new area often has the effect of humbling and subduing one's character, and it is thus recommended under certain situations for sinners to relocate. It has been explained that this notion underlies the Mitzvah to reside in a Sukkah for a week after Yom Kippur. As part of our process of Teshuva, we leave the comfort and security of our homes and experience the instability of a Sukkah, which causes us a sense of humility and helps us correct the flaws in our character

    .

    In the next Halacha (5), the Rambam addresses the issue of whether it is appropriate to publicize one's sin in order to subject himself to shame as part of the Teshuva process. The Rambam distinguishes in this regard between offenses committed against one's fellow, and sins committed solely against the Almighty. In the case of interpersonal offenses, the Rambam rules that one should, in fact, publicly confess and express his contrition, and one who refuses to do so does not achieve complete Teshuva. When it comes, however, to sins committed solely against God, the Rambam writes that one should not make public mention of his sins, and publicizing one's sins against God is in fact deemed brazen. One may refer in a general sense in public to his having acted wrongly, but specifying one's sins in public is improper.

    The Rambam's ruling is based upon the Gemara's discussion of this topic in Masechet Yoma. The Gemara cites two verses which appear to lead to conflicting conclusions; one verse indicates that publicizing one's sin is laudable, while the other advocates keeping this information private. The Gemara offers two approaches to reconcile these verses, one of which forms the basis of the Rambam's ruling, distinguishing between sins committed against God and interpersonal offenses. In addition, however, the Gemara suggests distinguishing between situations where the sin has already been made public and cases where there is no public knowledge of the act. If the public is already aware of the sin, then the sinner should make public the fact that he regrets the act and has performed Teshuva. If, however, the sin has not been publicized, then one should not make it public as part of his repentance.

    Accordingly, the Ra'avad (Rabbi Avraham Ben David of Posquieres, 1120-1198), in his critique of the Rambam's Mishneh Torah, notes that even if one committed a sin solely against God, he must publicly confess to his wrongdoing if the matter had already become public. Rabbi Yosef Karo (author of the Shulhan Aruch), in his Kesef Mishneh commentary, claimed that the Rambam held this opinion, as well, and that only in instances of sins committed against God and that have not been made public is it improper for one to publicly confess.

    Summary: A penitent sinner should accustom himself to pray to God for forgiveness, give charity, distance himself from the matter regarding which he sinned, and, in some circumstances, even change his name and his location. It is proper to publicly confess one's sin, except in the case of a sin committed against God (as opposed to one's fellow man) that has not been made public.

    The Kabbalah Center recommends the following procedure in the writings of Rabbi Yehuda Berg.

    Here’s a practical exercise for facing your dirty dishes:

    Go through your old emails, date book, or calendar and jog your memory. Recall those moments when you treated others poorly and did nothing about it. If it helps, jot down a list and keep it with you to remind you. Then do your best to clear the air with those people.

    Of course, be realistic. Our list is probably long and our chances of remembering and getting in touch with everyone are slim. The thing is, if we can really come clean with one person, it is as though we have done it with everyone on the list. Once you focus on who you need to deal with, take yourself through the following three-step process. You must go through all three steps if you want to truly clean the slate and prevent it from happening again.

    1. Regret – Think about the incident(s).

    2. Remorse – Imagine the pain the other person felt because of you,

    3. Resolution – Resolve to yourself that you will not react this way again.

    That last step is crucial. Whatever the situation was, it was only a test. It will come back at us again. If we do these three steps correctly, we’ll get the opportunity to react but we won’t even consider it as an option.

    Teshuva: National Goal or Private Matter? by Rabbi Moshe Kaplan

    Part I

    Yachid and Tzibur – Individual and Community

    Our time is one of great upheaval. {1} Dramatic historic events are occurring at a frantic pace. A new world order is emerging out of the collapsing Russian Empire. The severed limb of Russian Jewry is being reconnected to the Jewish Nation as the Land of Israel welcomes its people home to Zion. The exile is literally drawing to a close with every passing hour as tens of thousands of Jews arrive at Ben Gurion airport to take up new residence in the land of their fathers. The process of transforming the Jewish people from a group of individuals scattered among the nations to a nation reborn on its own soil advances dramatically with each successive wave of aliyah. This transformation demands that we broaden our Torah concepts to encompass the reality of our restored existence as a sovereign nation. {2}

    Since our generation is experiencing a resurgence of teshuva in this era of national revival it is essential to elaborate on the concept of tshuva and its relationship to the return of the Jewish people to Eretz Yisrael. A teshuva that relates only to t'fillin, kashrut and Shabbat is incomplete because the tshuva of each individual Jew is actually only a part of a much greater historical process of tshuva.

    Judaism was meant to be not only a religion for individuals, but as the great Rabbi, the `Ohr Samayach,' reminds us in his commentary to the Torah,{3} "G-d does not rest His Name on the individual." He states that "the Torah was given to the nation as a whole" and "can only be kept in its entirety by the whole nation." {4}

    By his connection to the klal (the national entity), the individual takes on an infinitely greater importance and significance. He is then linked to the blessing and Divine connection of the klal, and even his individual life and actions are imbued with the infinite significance of the klal of which he is part .{5} The converse is also true, that when a person separates himself from the nation he severs his link to eternity—"He who separates himself from the tzibur (community), even though he has no sins... has no part in the world to come" (Rambam). {6}

    The Divine Ideal transcends the individual and is expressed through him. Therefore, keeping the Torah is not a private affair between the individual and G-d, but rather stems from his being a part of the national whole. This is why before the performance of mitzvot we say that we do so "in the name of all of Israel." Our prayers are in the plural form, praying for the good of the nation, {7} as the Vilna Gaon clearly writes that "it is forbidden to pray for one's private needs, rather for the perfection of Am Yisrael." {8} At the beginning of many Siddurim the words of the Ari HaKadosh are cited, that before every prayer one should accept upon himself the Commandment of "Love thy neighbor as thyself," to love all of Israel, and thus connect oneself to the klal.{9}

    The oneness of Israel is the foundation upon which all Torah, mitzvot, and `yirat shamayim' (fear of heaven) are built.{10} Only when this unity was attained were we able to receive the Torah. {11} This is so because the Torah is the Divine content and ideal {12} of an entire nation{13} that ultimately revitalizes all human culture, {14} restores harmony to the world,{15} and brings to fulfillment all of creation. {16}

    Sources and Footnotes are available upon request.

    The ARI (Rabbi Isaac Luria) teaches the best period for doing Tshuvah for wrong sexual acts is Shavavim. Shovavim is the 6 week period from the week of Shemot to Mishpatim. This is not our current period but will be after Jan 1, 2015.

    As we know the lower level of Tshuvah is done in four steps. 1) acknowledging the action; 2) Confessing the action; 3) asking forgiveness; 4) Making restitution. The higher level of Tshuva takes a number of additional steps leading up to the concept of "Back to the Future."

    Restitution can be difficult to do in the area of sex acts. The sages then prioritize different methods of making restitution between ourselves and HaShem.

    Our sages recommend one or more of the following rituals to be done during this period.

    1. Ta’anit (fasts) (dawn to dusk) at least once or twice per week. The preferred day is Thursday (if done once) or Monday and Thursday but any day will do.

    2. Gilgul HaShelig (rolling in the snow). This makes restitution for all wrong sexual actions in this and in previous incarnations.

    3. Ta’anit HaDebur (fast of Words) – This is done on Shabbat. During this specific Shabbat one only says words of Torah including reading all 150 Psalms three times. No other words may be said.

    4. If one is unable to do No. 1 (Ta’anit) one may give Tzedakah in place of Ta’anit (due to the level of the generation).

    Remember, the restitution part of this ritual should only be done as part of the full process of Tshuva.

    What do we learn from the Writings by the Sages

    There is a difference between Mistakes made against HaShem and Mistakes made against other entities. The procedure for Tshuva is different if the Mistake is against God or if it is against another entity.

    If Tshuvah is done fully and completely, this trait will never be seen in any other person in your life.

    Tell the story of Moshe the Goniff and the Baal Shem Tov

    It is a Mitzvah to do Tshuva

    The above essay indicates that Tshuva must be done individually and collectively.

    72 Names of God used in the Tshuva Process

    1. והו This is the first of the 72 Names and its code word is time travel as in the process of "Back to the Future" which will be discussed below.

    2. ילי The second of the 72 Names has a code word of "Recapturing the Sparks" and this is useful in the teaching of the Baal Shem Tov related above from the book "You are Who You Hate."

    3. האא The 26th Name in the 72 Names is a code word for "returning order from chaos."

    4. מום The 72nd Name in the 72 Names is a code word for "Spiritual Cleansing" which is another although less complete name for Tshuva.

    A final thought before Elul

    We relate to HaShem in different ways during Elul and Tishrai. Also, we relate to HaShem in different ways on different Holidays. We need to contemplate which way we are relating to HaShem as we do each item of our Teshuvah. The methods to relate to HaShem are as follows:

    During Elul we relate to HaShem using the cities of Refuge and the 6 constant Mitzvot.

    A person who unintentionally murdered another suffers from a severe lack of focus and sensitivity to the image of God in his surroundings. The City of Refuge, inhabited by Levites, is like a warm and loving home. It envelops the unintentional killer with care, helping him to recover and restore his attention to God. Elul is the City of Refuge of the year. It is the time most attuned to spiritual rehabilitation and refocus on HaShem.

    The Sefer Hachinuch enumerates six mitzvot (“commandments”) that we must fulfill constantly. He equates these mitzvot with the six Cities of Refuge. These six constant mitzvot all revolve around our constant focus on God’s Presence in our lives. They can be pictured as the six walls that surround a person in his home, reminding him to always focus on God.

    The ceiling of the home is our constant remembrance of God as expressed in the first of the Ten Commandments, “I am HaShem your Elokim.” Recognize HaShem as Merciful in a time of Judgment.

    The floor is the commandment not to worship any entity other than God. This is the constant reminder not to sink into the unrealistic depths of our imagination, but rather to remain focused on HaShem.

    The front wall reminds us that God is One. We must focus our thoughts on the principle that everything in the world is ultimately the One God and channel all our devotion to Him, with all our heart, soul and might, as we confirm in the Shema Israel.

    The right and left walls are the mitzvot to love God and to have awe / fear Him. God’s right hand eternally embraces us in love, while His left hand supports our head, lifting it to show us the distance between us, and how exalted HaShem is over us. Always remember that there are two levels of love and two levels of Yirah or awe.

    Finally, the back door reminds us not to go astray after our hearts or eyes. We must place a guard at the back door of our consciousness to ensure that no foreign thoughts enter our psyches to disconnect us from our consciousness of HaShem.

    When we realize that we have forgotten HaShem and have ignored the walls of the home that supports us, we feel deep shame. With this feeling in our hearts we turn to HaShem to beg him to pardon us, selach lanu - cleanse us (is the true connection of Slichot), and to nullify our existence as much as it dares to be nullified.

    On Rosh HaShanah we relate to HaShem in the frame of King and servant

    On Rosh HaShanah we relate to HaShem in the frame of Father and Son

    On Succot we relate to HaShem in the frame of husband and wife

    We will discuss all of these three types of relationships as we go along our path of Teshuvah and utilizing the gifts of the Holidays in the next few weeks.

    Rosh Chodesh Elul start Monday Night.

    Please join us for our Rosh Chodesh Connection to Elul on Tuesday at 7 PM PDT. The connection is 857-232-0300. Use the pin code of 911904#