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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?

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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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