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Friday, September 26, 2003

Teshuva - More than just repentance

From Rosh Chodesh Elul, when the Shofar was first blown, through the conclusion of the Neila prayer on Yom Kippur, the main theme is Teshuva - traditionally defined as repentance. When one considers the purpose of teshuva, the idea is that through confessing our sins, experiencing true remorse over having commited them in the first place and resolving not to commit them again in the future, that we are bringing ourselves closer to Hashem.

The Rebbi m'Slonim, in his Sefer Netivot Shalom, says that the purpose of all the mitzvot is for one, through observing the mitvot to become closer to Hashem. If closeness to Hashem is the purpose of performing mitzvot, as well as being the goal of teshuva, then I suggest, that we approach this idea of teshuva from a different perspective.

If our goal (and purpose) as a Jew is to strive to become close to Hashem, then there is no other place more conducive towards this end more so than Eretz Yisrael. Teshuva should be defined, not as merely repentance, but as an actual call for us to return Home - to return to the place where we can experience true closeness with Hashem.

"Hashiveinu Hashem Eilecha V'nashuva, chadeish yemeinu kikedem" - "Return to us Hashem, and we shall return to you, restore things to how they once were". Hashem has returned to us - He has given every Jew in the world the chance to come home - it is up to us to make the move.

May this year be a year where "V'shavu banim l'gvulam" - "where the children (the Jews) return to their borders".

Shanah tova!


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