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The True Meaning of Teshuva

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Return: The True Meaning of Teshuva

Our Sages extol the virtue of “Teshuva and good deeds.” But why do they praise the path of repentance before the path of purity? Shouldn’t repentance for misdeeds be enumerated after we speak of doing good deeds?
Lubavitcher Rebbe, Teshuvah
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The True Meaning of Teshuva
Disc 26, Program 103

Event Date: 6 Tishrei 5742 - October 04, 1981

Our Sages extol the virtue of “Teshuva and good deeds.” But why do they praise the path of repentance before the path of purity? Shouldn’t repentance for misdeeds be enumerated after we speak of doing good deeds?

The essence of Teshuva, the Alter Rebbe explains, is not “repentance” but ”return” – as expressed by the verse, “The soul will return to G-d, its Source.” Teshuva means to return and reconnect oneself with an absolute true bond to G-d Almighty, Who is the source of his G-dly soul. So Teshuva is the most fundamental expression of our divine existence, even for someone who has never sinned his entire life.

The Sages also instruct, “One should spend all one’s days in Teshuva.” G-d Himself is infinite, so as righteous as a person may be, and as strong as his connection to G-d may be, there is always room to deepen and intensify his attachment to G-d.

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heather ann maxim Birmingham May 11, 2017

Before doing good deeds, should you not first see where you have gone wrong in life? For in understanding yourself first and where you have gone wrong? Then would you not know where to make changes for the better and would this then not be the start of doing good deeds? Before you tell others their faults, should you not see your own first and in understanding them and wishing for change, then you can help others to see theirs? Good Deeds come from the Heart not the Head do they not? Reply

Simcha Bart for Chabad.org November 27, 2017
in response to heather ann maxim:

There is merit to introspection as a means and part of repentance. Yet we are taught that a little bit of light dispels much darkness. Instead of battling the darkness within us - we should focus on doing good - which will help us overcome anything unwanted within. Towards that goal G-d gave us His Torah and His Mitzvot, so we do not need to rely on our own heart and mind to determine what good deeds to do. Reply

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