As we approach Rosh Hashana, we present a letter from the Rebbe in which he explains the right and the wrong way of doing teshuva. The letter, written originally in English, is from the archives of the Rebbe’s personal trusted secretary, Rabbi Nissan Mindel.
The Rebbe explains that Teshuva done with sincerity and with joy, without overdoing the regret and remorse, brings to an even greater love from Hahsem to his child. Special days – the Ten Days of Repentance – have been specially set aside for teshuva, so as not to be otherwise preoccupied with it and have it be counterproductive.
By the Grace of G-d
Rosh Chodesh Sivan, 5741
Chicago, Ill. 60659
Greeting and Blessing:
I am in receipt of your letter in which you write about your anxiety as a result of an incident last summer, involving a verbal outburst, which, you think, may require a special teshuva etc.
I trust you know that one of the basic principles of our Torah, Toras Emes, is that G-d does not require of a person anything that is beyond the person’s capacity. And, needless to say, G-d knows the capacities and weaknesses of the creatures He created, including the fact that a human being is subject to moods, which sometimes bring him to say or even do things which are contrary to his real character and will.
For this reason, G-d has provided teshuva, “repentance”, which is the ability to rectify anything that needs to be rectified, even to the extent of erasing the past. Teshuva, basically, calls for a sincere regreat of the past failing and equally sincere determination not to repeat it. And when this is done, the person again becomes beloved to G-d, and even more than before, as is the case of a truant child who begs his father ‘s forgiveness and father embraces him more affectionately than before.
Moreover, as you surely know, G-d has set aside special times in the year for teshuva, such as the Ten Days of Repentance and Yom Kippur, so that a person should not become overly preoccupied with guilt feelings, remorse and sadness which are counterproductive and can only hinder is normal activities, especially the most important activity of serving G-d with joy.
It is clear from your letter that you have had more than your share of regret and remorse over the past. Thus you may rest assured that hot only are you a Jew in good standing with Hashem, but even closer and dearer than before and there is absolutely no basis whatsoever for any anxiety on that score. So you can completely dismiss the incident from your mind and turn your full attention to continued advancement in Yisddishkeit, Torah and mitzvoth, wholeheartedly and with joy.
P.S. With regard to your request for an order of teshuva , it is already included in the above, specifically: conducting the everyday life in accordance with the Shulchan Aruch, including complete trust/bittachon in G-d in general and also that He is the “Gracious One Who pardons abundantly” as we say in the amida of our daily prayers, and that “Nothing stands in the way of teshuva.” All this – with joy, in compliance with the imperative: “Serve G-d with joy.” I will remember you in prayer for the hatzlocho in the above.
The above letter is from The Letter and the Spirit by Nissan Mindel Publications (NMP).
These letters were written originally in English and were prepared for publication by Rabbi Dr. Nissan Mindel, whose responsibility it was the Rebbe’s correspondence in English and several other languages.
We thank Rabbi Shalom Ber Schapiro, who was entrusted by his father-in-law Rabbi Mindel with his archives and who is Director of the Nissan Mindel Publications (NMP), for making the Rebbe’s letters available to the wider public. May the merit of the many stand him in good stead.