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ripples of water

Yom Kippur: Teshuva / Repentance, or more accurately, “To Return”

Lesson 27: Sept 26/Tishrei 6

Rabbi Yonah ben Avraham Gerondi (died 1264), known as Rabbeinu Yonah, was a Catalan rabbi and moralist, cousin of Nachmanides (Ramban). He is most famous for his Mussar work Shaarei Teshuva / Gates of Repentance, from which the following selection comes (Gate 2, section 11):

We learn in Pirkei Avot (1:14), “Hillel used to say, ‘If I am not for myself, who will be for me?’ This means that if a person does not wake oneself up, all the Mussar one learns is of no use."

He also teaches (1:11):

One who sins by chance, because of a lust or because the yetzer ha’ra momentarily overpowered him/her, the beginning of this person’s repentance is regret, infusing sorrow in one’s heart over having sinned.
If, however, one is habituated in a certain negative behavior, the beginning of this person’s repentance is to forsake the negative behavior and resolve not to do it again. After this, one must regret his/her corrupt actions.

Why do you think the order of the Teshuva process must be different for habitual sins?

Your practice for this week is to engage directly in the four primary components of the teshuva process as delineated in the Practice document. Today, bring your focus to your relationship with God. Identify a challenging area in your relationship with the Divine as you understand it. Examples include prayer, faith, mitzvot, or any other area where you feel challenged by your relationship with the Divine. Engage in the teshuva process as it pertains to this relationship.

See the details of your weekly practice by clicking HERE.

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Today’s learning is sponsored by Regina Gradess and Bonni Kraus, in memory of Hermina Rosenzveig, who exemplified the middot of chesed — kindness, azut — determination, and nedivut — generosity. Although our paternal grandmother died before we were born, the stories told about her made her come alive for us. She sent so many care packages to the refugees in Europe that the postal workers knew our family! She wore stockings with holes in them but gave generously to those in need. Her home was a sanctuary for many, including our own mother whom she brought over after the war. May her memory continue to be an inspiration.

Special thanks to Rachel Greengrass and Micha Berger for their work in helping to create Elul material.


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