During the days leading to Rosh Hashana our focus is on teshuvah. This letter from the Rebbe’s underlines the power of teshuva – even in the face of depression and despondency and in the case of relapse to sin, and adds some practical advice. The letter, written originally in English, is from the archives of the Rebbe’s trusted secretary Rabbi Nissan Mindel.
By the Grace of G-d
Erev Shavuos, 5716
In reply to you letter, you should bear in mind the following points:
- There can be no question but that teshuvo is effective in every case and whatever the transgression, for teshuvo is one of G-d’s commandments and G-d does not require of us the impossible
- It is likewise certain that any kind of depression, despondency or sadness is a trick of the yetzer hora to discourage one from serving G-d, as is explained at length in the books of Mussar and in the books of Chassidus; and you would do well to refer to Tanya, ch. 26 and further.
- Even were one has relapsed in committing the same transgression for which one has done teshuvo and moreover, even while doing teshuvo one is not certain whether he could resist the temptation should it recur, this must in no way prevent him from studying the Torah and observing its mitzvos, included among which also the mitzvah of teshuvo, for every action of man has its repercussions both down here below and Above and you surely know the saying of our Sages “No transgression extinguishes a mitzvah “ (even though it extinguishes the reward of a mitzvah). I refer you again to Iggeret Hatshuvo (part III of the Tanya), ch.11.
I advise you from now on to stop weighing and dwelling on things which are of no practical value and especially the kind of thought that only leads to despondency, but concentrate ever growing efforts on Torah and mitzvos.
I wish you to celebrate the Festival of Our Receiving the Torah with inner and lasting joy.