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Tanya

Tanya

Igeret HaTeshuva , end of Chapter 11

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Igeret HaTeshuva , end of Chapter 11

ומה שכתוב: וחטאתי נגדי תמיד

As to the verse that says,1 “My sin is always before me,”

אין המכוון להיות תמיד עצב נבזה, חס ושלום

this does not imply that one ought to be constantly melancholy and humiliated, G‑d forbid,

דהא כתיב בתריה: תשמיעני ששון ושמחה וגו'

for later verses declare, 2 “Let me hear gladness and joy….,”

ורוח נדיבה תסמכני וגו'

and3 “uphold me with a spirit of magnanimity….”;

ומשום שצריך להיות כל ימיו בתשובה עילאה, שהיא בשמחה רבה כנ"ל

moreover,4 “Throughout one's days one should experience teshuvah [ila'ah],” [a manner of repentance] that is marked by great joy, as noted above.

How, then, are we to understand that “my sin is always before me”?

אלא נגדי דייקא

Rather, [the term used for “before me” is] specifically negdi, which implies being opposite, but at a certain distance,

כמו: ואתה תתיצב מנגד, מנגד סביב לאהל מועד יחנו

as in the verse that says,5 “You shall stand at a distance (mineged)”; or:6 “at a distance (mineged) around the Tent of Assembly shall they camp.”

ופירש רש"י מרחוק

Rashi defines the above term lit., “opposite” as “at a distance.”

Thus, one should always retain an awareness of his having sinned — but “at a distance,” i.e., at the back of his mind.

והמכוון רק לבלתי רום לבבו

Hence, the intention [of our verse] is merely that one's heart should not grow haughty,

ולהיות שפל רוח בפני כל האדם

and that he be humble of spirit before all men,

כשהיה לזכרון בין עיניו שחטא נגד ה'

because there will be a remembrance between his eyes that he has sinned before G‑d.

Memories of past sin are thus not intended to engender despondency, G‑d forbid.

ואדרבה, לענין השמחה, יועיל זכרון החטא ביתר שאת

In fact, as far as joy is concerned, the remembrance of one's past sins will be especially effective

בכדי לקבל בשמחה כל המאורעות המתרגשות ובאות

in encouraging happiness in the face of whatever misfortunes threaten to overtake him,

בין מן השמים בין על ידי הבריות

whether from heaven or through the agency of man,

בדיבור או במעשה

whether in speech or in deed.

Any such physical or verbal offense will be accepted with equanimity when one recalls that he has sinned in the past, and that his present afflictions in fact assist in his atonement.

(וזו עצה טובה להנצל מכעס וכל מיני קפידא וכו')

(7This [humility on account of one's imperfect record] is good counsel that enables a man to be immune to becoming angry or taking offense in any way…..)

וכמאמר רז"ל: הנעלבים ואינן עולבין

As our Sages declare,8 “Those who are humiliated yet do not humiliate in turn,

שומעים חרפתם ואין משיבים

who hear their insult and do not retort,

עושים מאהבה ושמחים ביסורים וכו'

who perform out of love and are happy in affliction, [concerning them does Scripture say,9 `Those who love Him [shall be] like the sun rising in all its might'].”

Three distinct categories are mentioned here, in ascending order: “Those who are humiliated yet do not humiliate in turn” do respond to the insults of others, but do not retaliate in kind. Those of the second category “hear their insult and do not retort” at all. Those of the third category actually “are happy in affliction” — because they remember their past sins, and are glad to accept their present suffering as a means of penance.

וכל המעביר על מדותיו מעבירים לו על כל פשעיו

Moreover,10 “whoever passes over his feelings, all his sins are passed over.”

FOOTNOTES
1. Tehillim 51:5.
2. Loc. cit., v. 10.
3. Loc. cit., v. 14.
4. Cf. Shabbat 153a.
5. II Shmuel 18:13.
6. Bamidbar 2:2.
7. Parentheses are in the original text.
8. Shabbat 88b; Gittin 36b.
9. Shoftim 5:31.
10. Rosh HaShanah 17a.


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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