Friday, October 7, 2016

Complete Teshuvah

Art: Maurycy Gottllieb

The focus of the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is teshuvah - return or repentance. We recite the Avinu Malkeinu prayer during this period, requesting: “Our Father our King! Return us in complete teshuvah before You.”

When is teshuvah full and complete?

Healing the Source

We can understand this phrase better in light of the request that immediately follows:

“Our Father our King! Send complete healing to the sick of Your people.”

What is “complete healing”? Often we are only able to alleviate the patient’s external symptoms. The true source of the illness, however, remains unknown or is untreatable. Such a treatment is only a partial healing. When we plead for complete healing, we are praying that we may succeed in discovering the source of the illness and completely cure the patient. Such a comprehensive treatment will result in full restoration of the patient’s health.

The same concept holds true for teshuvah. If we address a particular fault, we are really dealing with a symptom of a much larger problem. Correcting a specific sin is only partial teshuvah. When we ask for God’s help in attaining complete teshuvah, we seek a comprehensive teshuvah that corrects the root source of our various sins and character flaws. Such a complete teshuvah will restore our spiritual wholeness.

Elevated Perception

How does one attain complete teshuvah? In his book Orot HaTeshuvah, Rav Kook explained that this teshuvah is based on an elevated outlook on life and the world:

“The higher level of teshuvah is based on holy enlightenment and a penetrating perception of the beauty of Divine providence. This [elevated teshuvah] is the source and foundation for the lower teshuvah that corrects deeds and refines traits. The basis for elevated teshuvah is none other than the foundation of Torah, in all of its roots and branches.” [15:6]

“Teshuvah that is truly complete requires a lofty perception, an ascent to the rarified world that is replete with truth and holiness. This is only possible by delving into the depths of Torah and Divine wisdom, to the mystical secrets of the universe.... Only the higher [i.e., mystical] Torah can break down the iron barriers that divide the individual and society as a whole from their heavenly Father.” [10:1]

Source: Rav Kook: Silver from the Land of Israel, pp. 72-73. Adapted from Mo'adei HaRe’iyah, p. 66]


Barry said...

My grandfather told me that teshuva and teshuva shelamah differ by the fact that teshuva has sheleimah can only be attained with learning Torah along with the standard teshuva has pre requisites. The proof is In shemona esrei where we say
השיבינו אבינו לתורתך.....וחזירנו בתשובה שלימה לפניך

Anonymous said...

"A well-known tzaddik once announced during Aseres Yimei Teshuva, "Do you know, Yidden, what awesome power you possess? Hundreds of malachim are circling around us now and listening how Yidden are talking about the good of others. They then grasp onto these words and bring them upward to the Beis Din shel Malah - the Heavenly Court. Indeed, these precious words have the power to inscribe all of Klal Yisrael to a sweet and blessed year." (The Secret to Simcha, pg. 18; edited by Chana Toby Friedman)