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  • Torah Reading: Naso
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Tishrei 6

And what does teshuvah consist of? [Repentance to the degree] that the One Who knows all that is hidden will testify that he will never again repeat this sin (Maimonides, Laws of Teshuvah 2:2).

"How can this be?" ask the commentaries. "Inasmuch as man always has free choice to do good or evil, to sin or not to sin, how can God testify that a person will never repeat a particular sin? Is this not a repudiation of one's free will?"

The answer to this came to me at a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, at which the speaker, a man who had been sober for twenty-one years, said, "The man I was drank. The man I was will drink again. But now I am a different man."

A sin does not occur in a vacuum. A person who is devout does not abruptly decide to eat treifah. A sin occurs when a person is in such a state that a particular act is not anathema to him.

Consequently, repentance is not complete if one merely regrets having done wrong. One must ask, "How did this sin ever come about? In what kind of a state was I that permitted me to commit this sin?"

True repentance thus consists of changing one's character to the point where, as the person is now, one can no longer even consider doing the forbidden act. Of course, the person's character may deteriorate - and if it does, he may sin again.

God does not testify that the person will never repeat the sin, but rather that his degree of repentance and correction of his character defects are such that, as long as he maintains his new status, he will not commit that sin.

Today I shall...

try to understand how I came to do those things that I regret having done, and bring myself to a state where such acts will be alien to me.

With stories and insights, Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...

May 21, 2009

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Visitor Comments: 2

(2) Esther, September 14, 2010 8:28 PM

And what does teshuvah consist of?

Wow Rabbi Twerski thank you so much. You read my mind. I have changed so much BH, but still have many character defects that I continue doing it. But I am growing and learning to be willing to let go and let Hashem take care of me. I know having the decease is a bracha because I have learned so many things that I really feel very privilege that I know that are wrong to do and understand why they are wrong. One of my biggest accomplishments is able to accepting my daughters and husband. Love them of who they are and be proud of them all the time. Again thank you so much for writing about this topic today Have an easy fast and Shana tova to every one

(1) Anonymous, September 24, 2009 2:41 PM

Thanks for this site

I am not Jewish, in fact a lapsed catholic. I have suffered a lot of heartache in recent times and when I was at a very low point came across Aish, reading this site every day helps me not to give up, it is like a candle in the darkness. Thank you so much

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