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Igeret HaTeshuva, end of Chapter 10

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Igeret HaTeshuva, end of Chapter 10

ומאחר שהתפלה היא בחינת תשובה עילאה

Since prayer is an expression of teshuvah ila'ah, the higher level of return,

צריך להקדים לפניה בחינת תשובה תתאה

it must be preceded by teshuvah tata'ah, the lower level of return that is reached by the contriteness of a penitent heart.

וזה שאמרו רז"ל במשנה: אין עומדין להתפלל אלא מתוך כובד ראש

This is what the Sages intended in the Mishnah:1 “One should embark on worship only in an earnest frame of mind.”

ופירש רש"י: הכנעה

Rashi explains this to mean “humility”.

והיא בחינת תשובה תתאה

This is the state of teshuvah tata'ah,

לעורר רחמים כנ"ל

in which one arouses Divine compassion for oneself, as noted above, in chapters 7 and 8.

וכדיליף התם בגמרא מקרא דכתיב

This the Talmud2 infers from a phrase which states 3 with regard to Chanah,

והיא מרת נפש

“She was bitter of spirit, [and she prayed to G‑d].”

אכן בברייתא שם: תנו רבנן, אין עומדין להתפלל אלא מתוך שמחה

At the same time we must note the Beraita there:4 “Our Sages taught, `One should embark on worship only with joy.'”

Thus, while the individual is to begin his preparations for prayer by achieving a state of bitterness of spirit, he is expected to begin his actual prayers in a state of joy.

ועכשיו בדור יתום הזה, שאין הכל יכולין להפוך לבם כרגע מן הקצה

In our bereaved generation, however, when not all are capable of turning their hearts instantly from one extreme [to the other], from humility to joy,

אזי עצה היעוצה: להקדים בחינת תשובה תתאה בתיקון חצות כנ"ל

it is advised that teshuvah tata'ah be practiced earlier, at Tikkun Chatzot; This is an especially appropriate time for the spiritual stocktaking that leads to the humility of a “broken and contrite heart,” as noted above.5

ומי שאי אפשר לו בכל לילה, על כל פנים לא יפחות מפעם אחת בשבוע, לפני יום השבת

Whoever cannot do this nightly6 should maintain an absolute minimum of once every week, before the Shabbat.

כנודע ליודעים, שהשבת היא בחינת תשובה עילאה

It is familiar to the initiates in the mysteries of the Torah that Shabbat is of the order of teshuvah ila'ah;

ושב"ת אותיות תש"ב אנוש

indeed, the very letters of the word Shabbat spell tashev [“You return”,7 as in the phrase,8 “You cause man to return.”

כי בשבת היא עליות העולמות למקורם כו'

For on Shabbat all the worlds ascend to their Source …., and this, too, is the time of the ascent of the soul to its Source — which constitutes the act of teshuvah.

ובפרט תפלות השבת, וד"ל

The prayers of Shabbat in particular — even more than the weekday prayers — [are an act of teshuvah ila'ah]. This will suffice for the perceptive.

(ובזה יובן מה שכתוב: שובה אלי כי גאלתיך

9(We can now understand the phrase,10 “Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”

פירוש: כי מאחר שמחיתי כעב פשעיך, היא העברת הסטרא אחרא

For since [as in the preceding phrase] “I have erased your sins like a thick cloud,” removing the sitra achra,

וגאלתיך מן החיצונים בהתעוררות רחמים עליונים, באתערותא דלתתא בתשובה תתאה כנ"ל

and “I have redeemed you” from the evil lit., “extraneous” forces through the arousal of Supreme compassion following the initiative taken by man below in his teshuvah tata'ah, as explained above,

אזי שובה אלי בתשובה עילאה)

therefore, “Return to Me” — with teshuvah ila'ah.)

Berachot 30b.
I Samuel 1:10.
Berachot 31a.
Note of the Rebbe: “See above, chapter 7.”
Note of the Rebbe: “As explained in chapter 11 of Kuntres HaTefillah, this applies only to great tzaddikim….. For most people, however, it need not be nightly….”
Conclusion of Torat Natan.
Tehillim 90:3.
Parentheses are in the original text.
Yeshayahu 44:22.

Translated from Yiddish by Rabbi Levy Wineberg and Rabbi Sholom B. Wineberg. Edited by Uri Kaploun.
Published and copyright by Kehot Publication Society, all rights reserved.
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