Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Teshuvah - Chapter One, Teshuvah - Chapter Two, Teshuvah - Chapter Three

Show content in:

Teshuvah - Chapter One

Introduction to Hilchos Teshuvah

[This text describes] one mitzvah; that a sinner should repent from his sin before God and confess.

This mitzvah and the fundamental principles [of faith] that follow in relation to it are explained in the coming chapters.

רמב"ם הלכות תשובה - הקדמה הלכות תשובה. מצות עשה אחת, והוא שישוב החוטא מחטאו לפני ה' ויתודה. וביאור מצוה זו ועיקרים הנגררים עמה בגללה בפרקים אלו.


If a person transgresses any of the mitzvot of the Torah, whether a positive command or a negative command - whether willingly or inadvertently - when he repents, and returns from his sin, he must confess before God, blessed be He, as [Numbers 5:6-7] states: "If a man or a woman commit any of the sins of man... they must confess the sin that they committed."

This refers to a verbal confession. This confession is a positive command.

How does one confess: He states: "I implore You, God, I sinned, I transgressed, I committed iniquity before You by doing the following. Behold, I regret and am embarrassed for my deeds. I promise never to repeat this act again."

These are the essential elements of the confessional prayer. Whoever confesses profusely and elaborates on these matters is worthy of praise.

Those who bring sin offerings or guilt offerings must also [confess their sins] when they bring their sacrifices for their inadvertent or willful transgressions. Their sacrifices will not atone for their sins until they repent and make a verbal confession as [Leviticus 5:5] states: "He shall confess the sin he has committed upon it."

Similarly, those obligated to be executed or lashed by the court do not attain atonement through their death or lashing unless they repent and confess. Similarly, someone who injures a colleague or damages his property, does not attain atonement, even though he pays him what he owes until he confesses and makes a commitment never to do such a thing again as implied by the phrase [Numbers, loc. cit..], "any of the sins of man."


כָּל מִצְוֹת שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה בֵּין עֲשֵׂה בֵּין לֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה אִם עָבַר אָדָם עַל אַחַת מֵהֶן בֵּין בְּזָדוֹן בֵּין בִּשְׁגָגָה כְּשֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה תְּשׁוּבָה וְיָשׁוּב מֵחֶטְאוֹ חַיָּב לְהִתְוַדּוֹת לִפְנֵי הָאֵל בָּרוּךְ הוּא שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר ה ו) "אִישׁ אוֹ אִשָּׁה כִּי יַעֲשׂוּ" וְגוֹ' (במדבר ה ז) "וְהִתְוַדּוּ אֶת חַטָּאתָם אֲשֶׁר עָשׂוּ" זֶה וִדּוּי דְּבָרִים. וִדּוּי זֶה מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה. כֵּיצַד מִתְוַדִּין. אוֹמֵר אָנָּא הַשֵּׁם חָטָאתִי עָוִיתִי פָּשַׁעְתִּי לְפָנֶיךָ וְעָשִׂיתִי כָּךְ וְכָךְ וַהֲרֵי נִחַמְתִּי וּבֹשְׁתִּי בְּמַעֲשַׂי וּלְעוֹלָם אֵינִי חוֹזֵר לְדָבָר זֶה. וְזֶהוּ עִקָּרוֹ שֶׁל וִדּוּי. וְכָל הַמַּרְבֶּה לְהִתְוַדּוֹת וּמַאֲרִיךְ בְּעִנְיָן זֶה הֲרֵי זֶה מְשֻׁבָּח. וְכֵן בַּעֲלֵי חַטָּאוֹת וַאֲשָׁמוֹת בְּעֵת שֶׁמְּבִיאִין קָרְבְּנוֹתֵיהֶן עַל שִׁגְגָתָן אוֹ עַל זְדוֹנָן אֵין מִתְכַּפֵּר לָהֶן בְּקָרְבָּנָם עַד שֶׁיַּעֲשׂוּ תְּשׁוּבָה וְיִתְוַדּוּ וִדּוּי דְּבָרִים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא ה ה) "וְהִתְוַדָּה אֲשֶׁר חָטָא עָלֶיהָ". וְכֵן כָּל מְחֻיְּבֵי מִיתוֹת בֵּית דִּין וּמְחֻיְּבֵי מַלְקוֹת אֵין מִתְכַּפֵּר לָהֶן בְּמִיתָתָן אוֹ בִּלְקִיָּתָן עַד שֶׁיַּעֲשׂוּ תְּשׁוּבָה וְיִתְוַדּוּ. וְכֵן הַחוֹבֵל בַּחֲבֵרוֹ וְהַמַּזִּיק מָמוֹנוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁשִּׁלֵּם לוֹ מַה שֶּׁהוּא חַיָּב לוֹ אֵינוֹ מִתְכַּפֵּר עַד שֶׁיִּתְוַדֶּה וְיָשׁוּב מִלַּעֲשׂוֹת כָּזֶה לְעוֹלָם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר ה ו) "מִכָּל חַטֹּאת הָאָדָם":


Since the goat sent [to Azazel] atones for all of Israel, the High Priest confesses upon it as a spokesman for all of Israel as [Leviticus 16:21] states: "He shall confess upon it all the sins of the children of Israel."

The goat sent to Azazel atones for all the transgressions in the Torah, the severe and the lighter [sins]; those violated intentionally and those transgressed inadvertently; those which [the transgressor] became conscious of and those which he was not conscious of. All are atoned for by the goat sent [to Azazel].

This applies only if one repents. If one does not repent, the goat only atones for the light [sins].

Which are light sins and which are severe ones? The severe sins are those for which one is liable for execution by the court or karet. False and unnecessary oaths are also considered severe sins even though they are not [punished by] karet. [The violation of] the other prohibitions and [the failure to perform] positive commandments that are not punishable by karet are considered light [sins].


שָׂעִיר הַמִּשְׁתַּלֵּחַ לְפִי שֶׁהוּא כַּפָּרָה עַל כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל מִתְוַדֶּה עָלָיו עַל לְשׁוֹן כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא טז כא) "וְהִתְוַדָּה עָלָיו אֶת כָּל עֲוֹנֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל". שָׂעִיר הַמִּשְׁתַּלֵּחַ מְכַפֵּר עַל כָּל עֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה, הַקַּלּוֹת וְהַחֲמוּרוֹת, בֵּין שֶׁעָבַר בְּזָדוֹן בֵּין שֶׁעָבַר בִּשְׁגָגָה, בֵּין שֶׁהוֹדַע לוֹ בֵּין שֶׁלֹּא הוֹדַע לוֹ, הַכּל מִתְכַּפֵּר בְּשָׂעִיר הַמִּשְׁתַּלֵּחַ. וְהוּא שֶׁעָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה. אֲבָל אִם לֹא עָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה אֵין הַשָּׂעִיר מְכַפֵּר לוֹ אֶלָּא עַל הַקַּלּוֹת. וּמַה הֵן הַקַּלּוֹת וּמַה הֵן הַחֲמוּרוֹת. הַחֲמוּרוֹת הֵן שֶׁחַיָּבִין עֲלֵיהֶם מִיתַת בֵּית דִּין אוֹ כָּרֵת. וּשְׁבוּעַת שָׁוְא וָשֶׁקֶר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין בָּהֶן כָּרֵת הֲרֵי הֵן מִן הַחֲמוּרוֹת. וּשְׁאָר מִצְוֹת לֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה וּמִצְוֹת עֲשֵׂה שֶׁאֵין בָּהֶן כָּרֵת הֵם הַקַּלּוֹת:


At present, when the Temple does not exist and there is no altar of atonement, there remains nothing else aside from Teshuvah.

Teshuvah atones for all sins. Even a person who was wicked his whole life and repented in his final moments will not be reminded of any aspect of his wickedness as [Ezekiel 33:12] states "the wickedness of the evil one will not cause him to stumble on the day he repents his wickedness."

The essence of Yom Kippur atones for those who repent as [Leviticus 16:30] states: "This day will atone for you."


בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה שֶׁאֵין בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ קַיָּם וְאֵין לָנוּ מִזְבַּח כַּפָּרָה אֵין שָׁם אֶלָּא תְּשׁוּבָה. הַתְּשׁוּבָה מְכַפֶּרֶת עַל כָּל הָעֲבֵרוֹת. אֲפִלּוּ רָשָׁע כָּל יָמָיו וְעָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה בָּאַחֲרוֹנָה אֵין מַזְכִּירִין לוֹ שׁוּם דָּבָר מֵרִשְׁעוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (יחזקאל לג יב) "רִשְׁעַת הָרָשָׁע לֹא יִכָּשֶׁל בָּהּ בְּיוֹם שׁוּבוֹ מֵרִשְׁעוֹ". וְעַצְמוֹ שֶׁל יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים מְכַפֵּר לַשָּׁבִים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא טז ל) "כִּי בַיּוֹם הַזֶּה יְכַפֵּר עֲלֵיכֶם":


Even though Teshuvah atones for all [sins] and the essence of Yom Kippur brings atonement, [there are different levels of sin and hence, differences in the degree of atonement.] There are sins that can be atoned for immediately and other sins which can only be atoned for over the course of time. What is implied?

If a person violates a positive command which is not punishable by karet and repents, he will not leave that place before he is forgiven. Concerning these sins, [Jeremiah 3:22] states: "Return, faithless children! I will heal your rebellious acts."

If a person violates a prohibition that is not punishable by karet or execution by the court and repents, Teshuvah has a tentative effect and Yom Kippur brings atonement as [Leviticus, loc. cit. states "This day will atone for you."

If a person violates [sins punishable by] karet or execution by the court and repents, Teshuvah and Yom Kippur have a tentative effect and the sufferings which come upon him complete the atonement. He will never achieve complete atonement until he endures suffering for concerning these [sins, Psalms 89:33] states: "I will punish their transgression with a rod."

When does the above apply: When the desecration of God's name is not involved in the transgression. However, a person who desecrated God's name, even though he repented, Yom Kippur arrived while he continued his repentance, and he experienced suffering, will not be granted complete atonement until he dies. The three: repentance, Yom Kippur, and suffering have a tentative effect and death atones as [Isaiah 22:14] states: "It was revealed in my ears [by] the Lord of Hosts, surely this iniquity will not be atoned for until you die."


אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַתְּשׁוּבָה מְכַפֶּרֶת עַל הַכּל וְעַצְמוֹ שֶׁל יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים מְכַפֵּר. יֵשׁ עֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁהֵן מִתְכַּפְּרִים לִשְׁעָתָן וְיֵשׁ עֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁאֵין מִתְכַּפְּרִים אֶלָּא לְאַחַר זְמַן. כֵּיצַד. עָבַר אָדָם עַל מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה שֶׁאֵין בָּהּ כָּרֵת וְעָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה אֵינוֹ זָז מִשָּׁם עַד שֶׁמּוֹחֲלִין לוֹ, וּבְאֵלּוּ נֶאֱמַר (ירמיה ג כב) "שׁוּבוּ בָּנִים שׁוֹבָבִים אֶרְפָּה מְשׁוּבֹתֵיכֶם" וְגוֹ'. עָבַר עַל מִצְוַת לֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁאֵין בָּהּ כָּרֵת וְלֹא מִיתַת בֵּית דִּין וְעָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה, תְּשׁוּבָה תּוֹלָה וְיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים מְכַפֵּר, וּבְאֵלּוּ נֶאֱמַר (ויקרא טז ל) "כִּי בַיּוֹם הַזֶּה יְכַפֵּר עֲלֵיכֶם". עָבַר עַל כְּרֵתוֹת וּמִיתוֹת בֵּית דִּין וְעָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה, תְּשׁוּבָה וְיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים תּוֹלִין וְיִסּוּרִין הַבָּאִין עָלָיו גּוֹמְרִין לוֹ הַכַּפָּרָה. וּלְעוֹלָם אֵין מִתְכַּפֵּר לוֹ כַּפָּרָה גְּמוּרָה עַד שֶׁיָּבוֹאוּ עָלָיו יִסּוּרִין, וּבְאֵלּוּ נֶאֱמַר (תהילים פט לג) "וּפָקַדְתִּי בְשֵׁבֶט פִּשְׁעָם וּבִנְגָעִים עֲוֹנָם". בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּשֶׁלֹּא חִלֵּל אֶת הַשֵּׁם בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁעָבַר אֲבָל הַמְחַלֵּל אֶת הַשֵּׁם אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה וְהִגִּיעַ יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים וְהוּא עוֹמֵד בִּתְשׁוּבָתוֹ וּבָאוּ עָלָיו יִסּוּרִין אֵינוֹ מִתְכַּפֵּר לוֹ כַּפָּרָה גְּמוּרָה עַד שֶׁיָּמוּת. אֶלָּא תְּשׁוּבָה יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים וְיִסּוּרִין שְׁלָשְׁתָּן תּוֹלִין וּמִיתָה מְכַפֶּרֶת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה כב יד) "וְנִגְלָה בְאָזְנָי ה' צְבָאוֹת" וְגוֹ' (ישעיה כב יד) "אִם יְכֻפַּר הֶעָוֹן הַזֶּה לָכֶם עַד תְּמֻתוּן":

Published and copyright by Moznaim Publications, all rights reserved.
To purchase this book or the entire series, please click here.
The text on this page contains sacred literature. Please do not deface or discard.
Vowelized Hebrew text courtesy Torat Emet under CC 2.5 license.

Teshuvah - Chapter Two


[Who has reached] complete Teshuvah? A person who confronts the same situation in which he sinned when he has the potential to commit [the sin again], and, nevertheless, abstains and does not commit it because of his Teshuvah alone and not because of fear or a lack of strength.

For example, a person engaged in illicit sexual relations with a woman. Afterwards, they met in privacy, in the same country, while his love for her and physical power still persisted, and nevertheless, he abstained and did not transgress. This is a complete Baal-Teshuvah. This was implied by King Solomon in his statement [Ecclesiastes 12:1] "Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, [before the bad days come and the years draw near when you will say: `I have no desire for them.'"]

If he does not repent until his old age, at a time when he is incapable of doing what he did before, even though this is not a high level of repentance, he is a Baal-Teshuvah.

Even if he transgressed throughout his entire life and repented on the day of his death and died in repentance, all his sins are forgiven as [Ecclesiastes, op. cit.:2] continues: "Before the sun, the light, the moon, or the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain..." - This refers to the day of death. Thus, we can infer that if one remembers his Creator and repents before he dies, he is forgiven.


אֵי זוֹ הִיא תְּשׁוּבָה גְּמוּרָה. זֶה שֶׁבָּא לְיָדוֹ דָּבָר שֶׁעָבַר בּוֹ וְאֶפְשָׁר בְּיָדוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹתוֹ וּפֵרַשׁ וְלֹא עָשָׂה מִפְּנֵי הַתְּשׁוּבָה. לֹא מִיִּרְאָה וְלֹא מִכִּשְׁלוֹן כֹּחַ. כֵּיצַד. הֲרֵי שֶׁבָּא עַל אִשָּׁה בַּעֲבֵרָה וּלְאַחַר זְמַן נִתְיַחֵד עִמָּהּ וְהוּא עוֹמֵד בְּאַהֲבָתוֹ בָּהּ וּבְכֹחַ גּוּפוֹ וּבַמְּדִינָה שֶׁעָבַר בָּהּ וּפָרַשׁ וְלֹא עָבַר זֶהוּ בַּעַל תְּשׁוּבָה גְּמוּרָה. הוּא שֶׁשְּׁלֹמֹה אָמַר (קהלת יב א) "וּזְכֹר אֶת בּוֹרְאֶיךָ בִּימֵי בְּחוּרֹתֶיךָ". וְאִם לֹא שָׁב אֶלָּא בִּימֵי זִקְנוּתוֹ וּבְעֵת שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹת מַה שֶּׁהָיָה עוֹשֶׂה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינָהּ תְּשׁוּבָה מְעֻלָּה מוֹעֶלֶת הִיא לוֹ וּבַעַל תְּשׁוּבָה הוּא. אֲפִלּוּ עָבַר כָּל יָמָיו וְעָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה בְּיוֹם מִיתָתוֹ וּמֵת בִּתְשׁוּבָתוֹ כָּל עֲוֹנוֹתָיו נִמְחָלִין שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (קהלת יב ב) "עַד אֲשֶׁר לֹא תֶחְשַׁךְ הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ וְהָאוֹר וְהַיָּרֵחַ וְהַכּוֹכָבִים וְשָׁבוּ הֶעָבִים אַחַר הַגֶּשֶׁם" שֶׁהוּא יוֹם הַמִּיתָה. מִכְּלָל שֶׁאִם זָכַר בּוֹרְאוֹ וְשָׁב קֹדֶם שֶׁיָּמוּת נִסְלַח לוֹ:


What constitutes Teshuvah? That a sinner should abandon his sins and remove them from his thoughts, resolving in his heart, never to commit them again as [Isaiah 55:7] states "May the wicked abandon his ways...." Similarly, he must regret the past as [Jeremiah 31:18] states: "After I returned, I regretted."

[He must reach the level where] He who knows the hidden will testify concerning him that he will never return to this sin again as [Hoshea 14:4] states: "We will no longer say to the work of our hands: `You are our gods.'"

He must verbally confess and state these matters which he resolved in his heart.


וּמַה הִיא הַתְּשׁוּבָה. הוּא שֶׁיַּעֲזֹב הַחוֹטֵא חֶטְאוֹ וִיסִירוֹ מִמַּחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ וְיִגְמֹר בְּלִבּוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יַעֲשֵׂהוּ עוֹד שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה נה ז) "יַעֲזֹב רָשָׁע דַּרְכּוֹ" וְגוֹ'. וְכֵן יִתְנַחֵם עַל שֶׁעָבַר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ירמיה לא יח) "כִּי אַחֲרֵי שׁוּבִי נִחַמְתִּי". וְיָעִיד עָלָיו יוֹדֵעַ תַּעֲלוּמוֹת שֶׁלֹּא יָשׁוּב לְזֶה הַחֵטְא לְעוֹלָם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (הושע יד ד) "וְלֹא נֹאמַר עוֹד אֱלֹהֵינוּ לְמַעֲשֵׂה יָדֵינוּ" וְגוֹ'. וְצָרִיךְ לְהִתְוַדּוֹת בִּשְׂפָתָיו וְלוֹמַר עִנְיָנוֹת אֵלּוּ שֶׁגָּמַר בְּלִבּוֹ:


Anyone who verbalizes his confession without resolving in his heart to abandon [sin] can be compared to [a person] who immerses himself [in a mikvah] while [holding the carcass of] a lizard in his hand. His immersion will not be of avail until he casts away the carcass.

This principle is implied by the statement, [Proverbs 28:13], "He who confesses and forsakes [his sins] will be treated with mercy."

It is necessary to mention particularly one's sins as evidenced by [Moses' confession, Exodus 32:31]: "I appeal to You. The people have committed a terrible sin by making a golden idol."


כָּל הַמִּתְוַדֶּה בִּדְבָרִים וְלֹא גָּמַר בְּלִבּוֹ לַעֲזֹב הֲרֵי זֶה דּוֹמֶה לְטוֹבֵל וְשֶׁרֶץ בְּיָדוֹ שֶׁאֵין הַטְּבִילָה מוֹעֶלֶת לוֹ עַד שֶׁיַּשְׁלִיךְ הַשֶּׁרֶץ. וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר וּמוֹדֶה וְעֹזֵב יְרֻחָם. וְצָרִיךְ לִפְרֹט אֶת הַחֵטְא שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות לב לא) "אָנָּא חָטָא הָעָם הַזֶּה חֲטָאָה גְדלָה וַיַּעֲשׂוּ לָהֶם אֱלֹהֵי זָהָב":


Among the paths of repentance is for the penitent to

a) constantly call out before God, crying and entreating;

b) to perform charity according to his potential;

c) to separate himself far from the object of his sin;

d) to change his name, as if to say "I am a different person and not the same one who sinned;"

e) to change his behavior in its entirety to the good and the path of righteousness; and f) to travel in exile from his home. Exile atones for sin because it causes a person to be submissive, humble, and meek of spirit.


מִדַּרְכֵי הַתְּשׁוּבָה לִהְיוֹת הַשָּׁב צוֹעֵק תָּמִיד לִפְנֵי הַשֵּׁם בִּבְכִי וּבְתַחֲנוּנִים וְעוֹשֶׂה צְדָקָה כְּפִי כֹּחוֹ וּמִתְרַחֵק הַרְבֵּה מִן הַדָּבָר שֶׁחָטָא בּוֹ וּמְשַׁנֶּה שְׁמוֹ כְּלוֹמַר אֲנִי אַחֵר וְאֵינִי אוֹתוֹ הָאִישׁ שֶׁעָשָׂה אוֹתָן הַמַּעֲשִׂים וּמְשַׁנֶּה מַעֲשָׂיו כֻּלָּן לְטוֹבָה וּלְדֶרֶךְ יְשָׁרָה וְגוֹלֶה מִמְּקוֹמוֹ. שֶׁגָּלוּת מְכַפֶּרֶת עָוֹן מִפְּנֵי שֶׁגּוֹרֶמֶת לוֹ לְהִכָּנַע וְלִהְיוֹת עָנָו וּשְׁפַל רוּחַ:


It is very praiseworthy for a person who repents to confess in public and to make his sins known to others, revealing the transgressions he committed against his colleagues.

He should tell them: "Though I sinned against so and so, committing the following misdeeds.... Behold, I repent and express my regret." Anyone who, out of pride, conceals his sins and does not reveal them will not achieve complete repentance as [Proverbs 28:13] states: "He who conceals his sins will not succeed."

When does the above apply? In regard to sins between man and man. However, in regard to sins between man and God, it is not necessary to publicize one's [transgressions]. Indeed, revealing them is arrogant. Rather, a person should repent before God, blessed be He, and specifically mention his sins before Him. In public, he should make a general confession. It is to his benefit not to reveal his sins as [Psalms 32:1] states: "Happy is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered."


וְשֶׁבַח גָּדוֹל לַשָּׁב שֶׁיִּתְוַדֶּה בָּרַבִּים וְיוֹדִיעַ פְּשָׁעָיו לָהֶם וּמְגַלֶּה עֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁבֵּינוֹ לְבֵין חֲבֵרוֹ לַאֲחֵרִים וְאוֹמֵר לָהֶם אָמְנָם חָטָאתִי לִפְלוֹנִי וְעָשִׂיתִי לוֹ כָּךְ וְכָךְ וַהֲרֵינִי הַיּוֹם שָׁב וּמִתְנַחֵם. וְכָל הַמִּתְגָּאֶה וְאֵינוֹ מוֹדִיעַ אֶלָּא מְכַסֶּה פְּשָׁעָיו אֵין תְּשׁוּבָתוֹ גְּמוּרָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (משלי כח יג) "מְכַסֶּה פְשָׁעָיו לֹא יַצְלִיחַ". בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בַּעֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁבֵּין אָדָם לַחֲבֵרוֹ אֲבָל בַּעֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁבֵּין אָדָם לַמָּקוֹם אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לְפַרְסֵם עַצְמוֹ וְעַזּוּת פָּנִים הִיא לוֹ אִם גִּלָּם. אֶלָּא שָׁב לִפְנֵי הָאֵל בָּרוּךְ הוּא וּפוֹרֵט חֲטָאָיו לְפָנָיו וּמִתְוַדֶּה עֲלֵיהֶם לִפְנֵי רַבִּים סְתָם. וְטוֹבָה הִיא לוֹ שֶׁלֹּא נִתְגַּלָּה עֲוֹנוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהילים לב א) "אַשְׁרֵי נְשׂוּי פֶּשַׁע כְּסוּי חֲטָאָה":


Even though repentance and calling out [to God] are desirable at all times, during the ten days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, they are even more desirable and will be accepted immediately as [Isaiah 55:6] states: "Seek God when He is to be found."

When does the above apply? To an individual. However, in regard to a community, whenever they repent and cry out wholeheartedly, they are answered immediately as [Deuteronomy 4:7] states: "[What nation is so great that they have God close to them,] as God, our Lord, is whenever we call Him."


אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַתְּשׁוּבָה וְהַצְּעָקָה יָפָה לָעוֹלָם. בַּעֲשָׂרָה הַיָּמִים שֶׁבֵּין רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה וְיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים הִיא יָפָה בְּיוֹתֵר וּמִתְקַבֶּלֶת הִיא מִיָּד שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה נה ו) "דִּרְשׁוּ ה' בְּהִמָּצְאוֹ". בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּיָחִיד אֲבָל צִבּוּר כָּל זְמַן שֶׁעוֹשִׂים תְּשׁוּבָה וְצוֹעֲקִין בְּלֵב שָׁלֵם הֵם נַעֲנִין שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים ד ז) "כַּה' אֱלֹהֵינוּ בְּכָל קָרְאֵנוּ אֵלָיו":


Yom Kippur is the time of Teshuvah for all, both individuals and the community at large. It is the apex of forgiveness and pardon for Israel. Accordingly, everyone is obligated to repent and confess on Yom Kippur.

The mitzvah of the confession of Yom Kippur begins on the day's eve, before one eats [the final meal], lest one choke to death in the meal before confessing.

Although a person confessed before eating, he should confess again in the evening service, Yom Kippur night, and similarly, repeat the confession in the morning, Musaf, afternoon, and Ne'ilah services.

At which point [in the service] should one confess? An individual confesses after the Amidah and the Chazan confesses in the midst of the Amidah, in the fourth blessing.


יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים הוּא זְמַן תְּשׁוּבָה לַכּל לַיָּחִיד וְלָרַבִּים וְהוּא קֵץ מְחִילָה וּסְלִיחָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל. לְפִיכָךְ חַיָּבִים הַכּל לַעֲשׂוֹת תְּשׁוּבָה וּלְהִתְוַדּוֹת בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים. וּמִצְוַת וִדּוּי יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים שֶׁיַּתְחִיל מֵעֶרֶב הַיּוֹם קֹדֶם שֶׁיֹּאכַל שֶׁמָּא יֵחָנֵק בַּסְּעֻדָּה קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּתְוַדֶּה. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִתְוַדָּה קֹדֶם שֶׁיֹּאכַל חוֹזֵר וּמִתְוַדֶּה בְּלֵילֵי יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים עַרְבִית וְחוֹזֵר וּמִתְוַדֶּה בְּשַׁחֲרִית וּבְמוּסָף וּבְמִנְחָה וּבִנְעִילָה. וְהֵיכָן מִתְוַדֶּה. יָחִיד אַחַר תְּפִלָּתוֹ וּשְׁלִיחַ צִבּוּר בְּאֶמְצַע תְּפִלָּתוֹ בִּבְרָכָה רְבִיעִית:


The confessional prayer customarily recited by all Israel is: "For we have all sinned...." This is the essence of the confessional prayer.
Sins which were confessed on one Yom Kippur should be confessed on another Yom Kippur even though one remains steadfast in his repentance, as [Psalms 51:5] states: "I acknowledge my transgressions and my sins are always before me."


הַוִּדּוּי שֶׁנָּהֲגוּ בּוֹ כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲבָל אֲנַחְנוּ חָטָאנוּ (כֻּלָּנוּ) וְהוּא עִקַּר הַוִּדּוּי. עֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁהִתְוַדָּה עֲלֵיהֶם בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים זֶה חוֹזֵר וּמִתְוַדֶּה עֲלֵיהֶן בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים אַחֵר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא עוֹמֵד בִּתְשׁוּבָתוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהילים נא ה) "כִּי פְשָׁעַי אֲנִי אֵדָע וְחַטָּאתִי נֶגְדִּי תָמִיד":


Teshuvah and Yom Kippur only atone for sins between man and God; for example, a person who ate a forbidden food or engaged in forbidden sexual relations, and the like. However, sins between man and man; for example, someone who injures a colleague, curses a colleague, steals from him, or the like will never be forgiven until he gives his colleague what he owes him and appeases him.

[It must be emphasized that] even if a person restores the money that he owes [the person he wronged], he must appease him and ask him to forgive him.

Even if a person only upset a colleague by saying [certain] things, he must appease him and approach him [repeatedly] until he forgives him.

If his colleague does not desire to forgive him, he should bring a group of three of his friends and approach him with them and request [forgiveness]. If [the wronged party] is not appeased, he should repeat the process a second and third time. If he [still] does not want [to forgive him], he may let him alone and need not pursue [the matter further]. On the contrary, the person who refuses to grant forgiveness is the one considered as the sinner.

[The above does not apply] if [the wronged party] was one's teacher. [In that instance,] a person should continue seeking his forgiveness, even a thousand times, until he forgives him.


אֵין הַתְּשׁוּבָה וְלֹא יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים מְכַפְּרִין אֶלָּא עַל עֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁבֵּין אָדָם לַמָּקוֹם כְּגוֹן מִי שֶׁאָכַל דָּבָר אָסוּר אוֹ בָּעַל בְּעִילָה אֲסוּרָה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן. אֲבָל עֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁבֵּין אָדָם לַחֲבֵרוֹ כְּגוֹן הַחוֹבֵל אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ אוֹ הַמְקַלֵּל חֲבֵרוֹ אוֹ גּוֹזְלוֹ וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן אֵינוֹ נִמְחַל לוֹ לְעוֹלָם עַד שֶׁיִּתֵּן לַחֲבֵרוֹ מַה שֶּׁהוּא חַיָּב לוֹ וִירַצֵּהוּ. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֶחֱזִיר לוֹ מָמוֹן שֶׁהוּא חַיָּב לוֹ צָרִיךְ לְרַצּוֹתוֹ וְלִשְׁאל מִמֶּנּוּ שֶׁיִּמְחל לוֹ. אֲפִלּוּ לֹא הִקְנִיט אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ אֶלָּא בִּדְבָרִים צָרִיךְ לְפַיְּסוֹ וְלִפְגֹּעַ בּוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּמְחל לוֹ. לֹא רָצָה חֲבֵרוֹ לִמְחל לוֹ מֵבִיא לוֹ שׁוּרָה שֶׁל שְׁלֹשָׁה בְּנֵי אָדָם מֵרֵעָיו וּפוֹגְעִין בּוֹ וּמְבַקְּשִׁין מִמֶּנּוּ. לֹא נִתְרַצָּה לָהֶן מֵבִיא לוֹ שְׁנִיָּה וּשְׁלִישִׁית. לֹא רָצָה מְנִיחוֹ וְהוֹלֵךְ לוֹ וְזֶה שֶׁלֹּא מָחַל הוּא הַחוֹטֵא. וְאִם הָיָה רַבּוֹ הוֹלֵךְ וּבָא אֲפִלּוּ אֶלֶף פְּעָמִים עַד שֶׁיִּמְחל לוֹ:


It is forbidden for a person to be cruel and refuse to be appeased. Rather, he should be easily pacified, but hard to anger. When the person who wronged him asks for forgiveness, he should forgive him with a complete heart and a willing spirit. Even if he aggravated and wronged him severely, he should not seek revenge or bear a grudge.

This is the path of the seed of Israel and their upright spirit. In contrast, the insensitive gentiles do not act in this manner. Rather, their wrath is preserved forever. Similarly, because the Gibeonites did not forgive and refused to be appeased, [II Samuel 21:2] describes them, as follows: "The Gibeonites are not among the children of Israel."


אָסוּר לָאָדָם לִהְיוֹת אַכְזָרִי וְלֹא יִתְפַּיֵּס אֶלָּא יְהֵא נוֹחַ לִרְצוֹת וְקָשֶׁה לִכְעֹס וּבְשָׁעָה שֶׁמְּבַקֵּשׁ מִמֶּנּוּ הַחוֹטֵא לִמְחל מוֹחֵל בְּלֵב שָׁלֵם וּבְנֶפֶשׁ חֲפֵצָה. וַאֲפִלּוּ הֵצֵר לוֹ וְחָטָא לוֹ הַרְבֵּה לֹא יִקֹּם וְלֹא יִטֹּר. וְזֶהוּ דַּרְכָּם שֶׁל זֶרַע יִשְׂרָאֵל וְלִבָּם הַנָּכוֹן. אֲבָל הָעוֹבְדֵי כּוֹכָבִים עַרְלֵי לֵב אֵינָן כֵּן אֶלָּא (וְעֶבְרָתָן) [וְעֶבְרָתוֹ] שְׁמָרָה נֶצַח. וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר עַל הַגִּבְעוֹנִים לְפִי שֶׁלֹּא מָחֲלוּ וְלֹא נִתְפַּיְּסוּ וְהַגִּבְעֹנִים לֹא מִבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הֵמָּה:


If a person wronged a colleague and the latter died before he could ask him for forgiveness, he should take ten people and say the following while they are standing before the colleague's grave: "I sinned against God, the Lord of Israel, and against this person by doing the following to him...."

If he owed him money, he should return it to his heirs. If he is unaware of the identity of his heirs, he should place [the sum] in [the hands of] the court and confess.


הַחוֹטֵא לַחֲבֵרוֹ וּמֵת חֲבֵרוֹ קֹדֶם שֶׁיְּבַקֵּשׁ מְחִילָה מֵבִיא עֲשָׂרָה בְּנֵי אָדָם וּמַעֲמִידָן עַל קִבְרוֹ וְיֹאמַר בִּפְנֵיהֶם חָטָאתִי לַה' אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְלִפְלוֹנִי זֶה שֶׁכָּךְ וְכָךְ עָשִׂיתִי לוֹ. וְאִם הָיָה חַיָּב לוֹ מָמוֹן יַחֲזִירוֹ לַיּוֹרְשִׁים. לֹא הָיָה יוֹדֵעַ לוֹ יוֹרְשִׁין יַנִּיחֶנּוּ בְּבֵית דִּין וְיִתְוַדֶּה:

Published and copyright by Moznaim Publications, all rights reserved.
To purchase this book or the entire series, please click here.
The text on this page contains sacred literature. Please do not deface or discard.
Vowelized Hebrew text courtesy Torat Emet under CC 2.5 license.

Teshuvah - Chapter Three


Each and every person has merits and sins. A person whose merits exceed his sins is [termed] righteous. A person whose sins exceed his merits is [termed] wicked. If [his sins and merits] are equal, he is termed a Beinoni.

The same applies to an entire country. If the merits of all its inhabitants exceed their sins, it is [termed] righteous. If their sins are greater, it is [termed] wicked. The same applies to the entire world.


כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מִבְּנֵי הָאָדָם יֵשׁ לוֹ זְכֻיּוֹת וַעֲוֹנוֹת. מִי שֶׁזְּכֻיּוֹתָיו יְתֵרוֹת עַל עֲוֹנוֹתָיו צַדִּיק. וּמִי שֶׁעֲוֹנוֹתָיו יְתֵרוֹת עַל זְכֻיּוֹתָיו רָשָׁע. מֶחֱצָה לְמֶחֱצָה בֵּינוֹנִי. וְכֵן הַמְּדִינָה אִם הָיוּ זְכֻיּוֹת כָּל יוֹשְׁבֶיהָ מְרֻבּוֹת עַל עֲוֹנוֹתֵיהֶן הֲרֵי זוֹ צַדֶּקֶת. וְאִם הָיוּ עֲוֹנוֹתֵיהֶם מְרֻבִּין הֲרֵי זוֹ רְשָׁעָה. וְכֵן כָּל הָעוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ:


If a person's sins exceed his merits, he will immediately die because of his wickedness as [Jeremiah 30:14] states: "[I have smitten you...] for the multitude of your transgressions."

Similarly, a country whose sins are great will immediately be obliterated as implied by [Genesis 18:20]: "The outcry of Sodom and Amorah is great....

In regard to the entire world as well, were its [inhabitants'] sins to be greater than their merits, they would immediately be destroyed as [Genesis 6:5] relates: "God saw the evil of man was great... [and God said: `I will destroy man....']"

This reckoning is not calculated [only] on the basis of the number of merits and sins, but also [takes into account] their magnitude. There are some merits which outweigh many sins as implied by [I Kings 14:13]: "Because in him, there was found a good quality." In contrast, a sin may outweigh many merits as [Ecclesiastes 9:18] states: "One sin may obscure much good."

The weighing [of sins and merits] is carried out according to the wisdom of the Knowing God. He knows how to measure merits against sins.


אָדָם שֶׁעֲוֹנוֹתָיו מְרֻבִּין עַל זְכֻיּוֹתָיו מִיָּד הוּא מֵת בְּרִשְׁעוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר עַל רֹב עֲוֹנֵךְ. וְכֵן מְדִינָה שֶׁעֲוֹנוֹתֶיהָ מְרֻבִּין מִיָּד הִיא אוֹבֶדֶת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (בראשית יח כ) "זַעֲקַת סְדֹם וַעֲמֹרָה כִּי רָבָּה" וְגוֹ'. וְכֵן כָּל הָעוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ אִם הָיוּ עֲוֹנוֹתֵיהֶם מְרֻבִּין מִזְּכֻיּוֹתֵיהֶן מִיָּד הֵן נִשְׁחָתִין שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (בראשית ו ה) "וַיַּרְא ה' כִּי רַבָּה רָעַת הָאָדָם". וְשִׁקּוּל זֶה אֵינוֹ לְפִי מִנְיַן הַזְּכֻיּוֹת וְהָעֲוֹנוֹת אֶלָּא לְפִי גָּדְלָם. יֵשׁ זְכוּת שֶׁהִיא כְּנֶגֶד כַּמָּה עֲוֹנוֹת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (מלכים א יד יג) "יַעַן נִמְצָא בוֹ דָּבָר טוֹב". וְיֵשׁ עָוֹן שֶׁהוּא כְּנֶגֶד כַּמָּה זְכֻיּוֹת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (קהלת ט יח) "וְחוֹטֶא אֶחָד יְאַבֵּד טוֹבָה הַרְבֵּה". וְאֵין שׁוֹקְלִין אֶלָּא בְּדַעְתּוֹ שֶׁל אֵל דֵּעוֹת וְהוּא הַיּוֹדֵעַ הֵיאַךְ עוֹרְכִין הַזְּכֻיּוֹת כְּנֶגֶד הָעֲוֹנוֹת:


Anyone who changes his mind about the mitzvot he has performed and regrets the merits [he has earned], saying in his heart: "What value was there in doing them? I wish I hadn't performed them" - loses them all and no merit is preserved for him at all as [Ezekiel 33:12] states "The righteousness of the upright will not save him on the day of his transgression." This only applies to one who regrets his previous [deeds].

Just as a person's merits and sins are weighed at the time of his death, so, too, the sins of every inhabitant of the world together with his merits are weighed on the festival of Rosh HaShanah. If one is found righteous, his [verdict] is sealed for life. If one is found wicked, his [verdict] is sealed for death. A Beinoni's verdict remains tentative until Yom Kippur. If he repents, his [verdict] is sealed for life. If not, his [verdict] is sealed for death.


כָּל מִי שֶׁנִּחַם עַל הַמִּצְוֹת שֶׁעָשָׂה וְתָהָה עַל הַזְּכֻיּוֹת וְאָמַר בְּלִבּוֹ וּמַה הוֹעַלְתִּי בַּעֲשִׂיָּתָן הַלְוַאי לֹא עָשִׂיתִי אוֹתָן הֲרֵי זֶה אִבֵּד אֶת כֻּלָּן וְאֵין מַזְכִּירִים לוֹ שׁוּם זְכוּת בָּעוֹלָם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (יחזקאל לג יב) "וְצִדְקַת הַצַּדִּיק לֹא תַצִּילֶנּוּ בְּיוֹם רִשְׁעוֹ", אֵין זֶה אֶלָּא בְּתוֹהֶה עַל הָרִאשׁוֹנוֹת. וּכְשֵׁם שֶׁשּׁוֹקְלִין זְכֻיּוֹת אָדָם וַעֲוֹנוֹתָיו בִּשְׁעַת מִיתָתוֹ כָּךְ בְּכָל שָׁנָה וְשָׁנָה שׁוֹקְלִין עֲוֹנוֹת כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מִבָּאֵי הָעוֹלָם עִם זְכֻיּוֹתָיו, בְּיוֹם טוֹב שֶׁל רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה. מִי שֶׁנִּמְצָא צַדִּיק נֶחְתָּם לְחַיִּים. וּמִי שֶׁנִּמְצָא רָשָׁע נֶחְתָּם לְמִיתָה. וְהַבֵּינוֹנִי תּוֹלִין אוֹתוֹ עַד יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים אִם עָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה נֶחְתָּם לְחַיִּים וְאִם לָאו נֶחְתָּם לְמִיתָה:


Even though the sounding of the shofar on Rosh HaShanah is a decree, it contains an allusion. It is as if [the shofar's call] is saying:

Wake up you sleepy ones from your sleep and you who slumber, arise. Inspect your deeds, repent, remember your Creator. Those who forget the truth in the vanities of time and throughout the entire year, devote their energies to vanity and emptiness which will not benefit or save: Look to your souls. Improve your ways and your deeds and let every one of you abandon his evil path and thoughts.

Accordingly, throughout the entire year, a person should always look at himself as equally balanced between merit and sin and the world as equally balanced between merit and sin. If he performs one sin, he tips his balance and that of the entire world to the side of guilt and brings destruction upon himself.

[On the other hand,] if he performs one mitzvah, he tips his balance and that of the entire world to the side of merit and brings deliverance and salvation to himself and others. This is implied by [Proverbs 10:25] "A righteous man is the foundation of the world," i.e., he who acted righteously, tipped the balance of the entire world to merit and saved it.

For these reasons, it is customary for all of Israel to give profusely to charity, perform many good deeds, and be occupied with mitzvot from Rosh HaShanah until Yom Kippur to a greater extent than during the remainder of the year.

During these ten days, the custom is for everyone to rise [while it is still] night and pray in the synagogues with heart-rending words of supplication until daybreak.


אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁתְּקִיעַת שׁוֹפָר בְּרֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה גְּזֵרַת הַכָּתוּב רֶמֶז יֵשׁ בּוֹ כְּלוֹמַר עוּרוּ יְשֵׁנִים מִשְּׁנַתְכֶם וְנִרְדָּמִים הָקִיצוּ מִתַּרְדֵּמַתְכֶם וְחַפְּשׂוּ בְּמַעֲשֵׂיכֶם וְחִזְרוּ בִּתְשׁוּבָה וְזִכְרוּ בּוֹרַאֲכֶם. אֵלּוּ הַשּׁוֹכְחִים אֶת הָאֱמֶת בְּהַבְלֵי הַזְּמַן וְשׁוֹגִים כָּל שְׁנָתָם בְּהֶבֶל וָרִיק אֲשֶׁר לֹא יוֹעִיל וְלֹא יַצִּיל, הַבִּיטוּ לְנַפְשׁוֹתֵיכֶם וְהֵיטִיבוּ דַּרְכֵיכֶם וּמַעַלְלֵיכֶם וְיַעֲזֹב כָּל אֶחָד מִכֶּם דַּרְכּוֹ הָרָעָה וּמַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר לֹא טוֹבָה. לְפִיכָךְ צָרִיךְ כָּל אָדָם שֶׁיִּרְאֶה עַצְמוֹ כָּל הַשָּׁנָה כֻּלָּהּ כְּאִלּוּ חֶצְיוֹ זַכַּאי וְחֶצְיוֹ חַיָּב. וְכֵן כָּל הָעוֹלָם חֶצְיוֹ זַכַּאי וְחֶצְיוֹ חַיָּב. חָטָא חֵטְא אֶחָד הֲרֵי הִכְרִיעַ אֶת עַצְמוֹ וְאֶת כָּל הָעוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ לְכַף חוֹבָה וְגָרַם לוֹ הַשְׁחָתָה. עָשָׂה מִצְוָה אַחַת הֲרֵי הִכְרִיעַ אֶת עַצְמוֹ וְאֶת כָּל הָעוֹלָם כֻּלּוֹ לְכַף זְכוּת וְגָרַם לוֹ וְלָהֶם תְּשׁוּעָה וְהַצָּלָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (משלי י כה) "וְצַדִּיק יְסוֹד עוֹלָם" זֶה שֶׁצָּדַק הִכְרִיעַ אֶת כָּל הָעוֹלָם לִזְכוּת וְהִצִּילוֹ. וּמִפְּנֵי עִנְיָן זֶה נָהֲגוּ כָּל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל לְהַרְבּוֹת בִּצְדָקָה וּבְמַעֲשִׂים טוֹבִים וְלַעֲסֹק בְּמִצְוֹת מֵרֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה וְעַד יוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים יֶתֶר מִכָּל הַשָּׁנָה. וְנָהֲגוּ כֻּלָּם לָקוּם בַּלַּיְלָה בַּעֲשָׂרָה יָמִים אֵלּוּ וּלְהִתְפַּלֵּל בְּבָתֵּי כְּנֵסִיּוֹת בְּדִבְרֵי תַּחֲנוּנִים וּבְכִבּוּשִׁין עַד שֶׁיֵּאוֹר הַיּוֹם:


When a person's sins are being weighed against his merits, [God] does not count a sin that was committed only once or twice. [A sin] is only [counted] if it was committed three times or more.

Should it be found that [even] those sins committed more than three times outweigh a person's merits, the sins that were committed twice [or less] are also added and he is judged for all of his sins.

If his merits are equal to [or greater than the amount of] his sins committed which were committed more than three times, [God] forgives his sins one after the other, i.e., the third sin [is forgiven because] it is considered as a first sin, for the two previous sins were already forgiven. Similarly, after the third sin is forgiven, the fourth sin is considered as a "first" [sin and is forgiven according to the same principle].

The same [pattern is continued] until [all his sins] are concluded.

When does the above apply? In regard to an individual as can be inferred from [Job 33:29] "All these things, God will do twice or three times with a man." However, in regard to a community, [retribution for] the first, second, and third sins is held in abeyance as implied by [Amos 2:6] "For three sins of Israel, [I will withhold retribution,] but for the fourth, I will not withhold it." When a reckoning [of their merits and sins] is made according to the above pattern, the reckoning begins with the fourth [sin].

[As mentioned above,] a Beinoni [is one whose scale is equally balanced between merit and sin]. However, if among his sins is [the

neglect of the mitzvah of] tefillin [to the extent that] he never wore them even once, he is judged according to his sins. He will, nevertheless, be granted a portion in the world to come.

Similarly, all the wicked whose sins are greater [than their merits] are judged according to their sins, but they are granted a portion in the world to come for all Israel have a share in the world to come as [Isaiah 60:21] states "Your people are all righteous, they shall inherit the land forever." "The land" is an analogy alluding to "the land of life," i.e., the world to come. Similarly, the "pious of the nations of the world" have a portion in the world to come.


בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁשּׁוֹקְלִין עֲוֹנוֹת אָדָם עִם זְכֻיּוֹתָיו אֵין מְחַשְּׁבִין עָלָיו עָוֹן שֶׁחָטָא בּוֹ תְּחִלָּה וְלֹא שֵׁנִי אֶלָּא מִשְּׁלִישִׁי וְאֵילָךְ. אִם נִמְצְאוּ עֲוֹנוֹתָיו מִשְּׁלִישִׁי וְאֵילָךְ מְרֻבִּין עַל זְכֻיּוֹתָיו אוֹתָם שְׁתֵּי עֲוֹנוֹת מִצְטָרְפִים וְדָנִין אוֹתוֹ עַל הַכּל. וְאִם נִמְצְאוּ זְכֻיּוֹתָיו כְּנֶגֶד עֲוֹנוֹתָיו אֲשֶׁר מֵעָוֹן שְׁלִישִׁי וְאֵילָךְ מַעֲבִירִים כָּל עֲוֹנוֹתָיו רִאשׁוֹן רִאשׁוֹן. לְפִי שֶׁהַשְּׁלִישִׁי נֶחְשָׁב רִאשׁוֹן שֶׁכְּבָר נִמְחֲלוּ הַשְּׁנַיִם. וְכֵן הָרְבִיעִי הֲרֵי הוּא רִאשׁוֹן שֶׁכְּבָר נִמְחַל הַשְּׁלִישִׁי וְכֵן עַד סוֹפָן. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּיָחִיד שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (איוב לג כט) "הֶן כָּל אֵלֶּה יִפְעַל אֵל פַּעֲמַיִם שָׁלוֹשׁ עִם גָּבֶר". אֲבָל הַצִּבּוּר תּוֹלִין לָהֶן עָוֹן רִאשׁוֹן שֵׁנִי וּשְׁלִישִׁי שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (עמוס ב ו) "עַל שְׁלֹשָׁה פִּשְׁעֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְעַל אַרְבָּעָה לֹא אֲשִׁיבֶנּוּ". וּכְשֶׁמְּחַשְּׁבִין לָהֶן עַל דֶּרֶךְ זֶה מְחַשְּׁבִין לָהֶן מֵרְבִיעִי וְאֵילָךְ. הַבֵּינוֹנִים אִם הָיָה בִּכְלַל מֶחֱצָה עֲוֹנוֹת שֶׁלָּהֶן שֶׁלֹּא הֵנִיחַ תְּפִלִּין מֵעוֹלָם דָּנִין אוֹתוֹ כְּפִי חֶטְאוֹ וְיֵשׁ לוֹ חֵלֶק לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. וְכֵן כָּל הָרְשָׁעִים שֶׁעֲוֹנוֹתֵיהֶן מְרֻבִּים דָּנִין אוֹתָן כְּפִי חֲטָאֵיהֶם וְיֵשׁ לָהֶן חֵלֶק לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא שֶׁכָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל יֵשׁ לָהֶם חֵלֶק לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁחָטְאוּ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה ס כא) "וְעַמֵּךְ כֻּלָּם צַדִּיקִים לְעוֹלָם יִירְשׁוּ אָרֶץ". אֶרֶץ זוֹ מָשָׁל כְּלוֹמַר אֶרֶץ הַחַיִּים וְהוּא הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. וְכֵן חֲסִידֵי אֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם יֵשׁ לָהֶם חֵלֶק לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא:


The following individuals do not have a portion in the world to come. Rather, their [souls] are cut off and they are judged for their great wickedness and sins, forever:

the Minim,

the Epicursim,

those who deny the Torah,

those who deny the resurrection of the dead and the coming of the [Messianic] redeemer,

those who rebel [against God],

those who cause the many to sin,

those who separate themselves from the community,

those who proudly commit sins in public as Jehoyakim did,

those who betray Jews to gentile authorities,

those who cast fear upon the people for reasons other than the service of God,



one who extends his foreskin [so as not to appear circumcised].


וְאֵלּוּ הֵן שֶׁאֵין לָהֶן חֵלֶק לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא אֶלָּא נִכְרָתִים וְאוֹבְדִין וְנִדּוֹנִין עַל גֹּדֶל רִשְׁעָם וְחַטָּאתָם לְעוֹלָם וּלְעוֹלְמֵי עוֹלָמִים. הַמִּינִים. וְהָאֶפִּיקוֹרוֹסִין. וְהַכּוֹפְרִים בַּתּוֹרָה. וְהַכּוֹפְרִים בִּתְחִיַּת הַמֵּתִים וּבְבִיאַת הַגּוֹאֵל. הַמּוֹרְדִים. וּמַחֲטִיאֵי הָרַבִּים. וְהַפּוֹרְשִׁין מִדַּרְכֵי צִבּוּר. וְהָעוֹשֶׂה עֲבֵרוֹת בְּיָד רָמָה בְּפַרְהֶסְיָא כִּיהוֹיָקִים. וְהַמּוֹסְרִים. וּמַטִּילֵי אֵימָה עַל הַצִּבּוּר שֶׁלֹּא לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם. וְשׁוֹפְכֵי דָּמִים. וּבַעֲלֵי לָשׁוֹן הָרַע. וְהַמּוֹשֵׁךְ עָרְלָתוֹ:


Five individuals are described as Minim:

a) one who says there is no God nor ruler of the world;

b) one who accepts the concept of a ruler, but maintains that there are two or more;

c) one who accepts that there is one Master [of the world], but maintains that He has a body or form;

d) one who maintains that He was not the sole First Being and Creator of all existence;

e) one who serves a star, constellation, or other entity so that it will serve as an intermediary between him and the eternal Lord.

Each of these five individuals is a Min.


חֲמִשָּׁה הֵן הַנִּקְרָאִים מִינִים. הָאוֹמֵר שֶׁאֵין שָׁם אֱלוֹהַּ וְאֵין לָעוֹלָם מַנְהִיג. וְהָאוֹמֵר שֶׁיֵּשׁ שָׁם מַנְהִיג אֲבָל הֵן שְׁנַיִם אוֹ יוֹתֵר. וְהָאוֹמֵר שֶׁיֵּשׁ שָׁם רִבּוֹן אֶחָד אֲבָל שֶׁהוּא גּוּף וּבַעַל תְּמוּנָה. וְכֵן הָאוֹמֵר שֶׁאֵינוֹ לְבַדּוֹ הָרִאשׁוֹן וְצוּר לַכּל. וְכֵן הָעוֹבֵד כּוֹכָב אוֹ מַזָּל וְזוּלָתוֹ (נ"א העובד אלוה זולתו) כְּדֵי לִהְיוֹת מֵלִיץ בֵּינוֹ וּבֵין רִבּוֹן הָעוֹלָמִים. כָּל אֶחָד מֵחֲמִשָּׁה אֵלּוּ הוּא מִין:


Three individuals are described as Epicursim:

a) one who denies the existence of prophecy and maintains that there is no knowledge communicated from God to the hearts of men;

b) one who disputes the prophecy of Moses, our teacher;'

c) one who maintains that the Creator is not aware of the deeds of men.

Each of these three individuals is an Epicurus.

There are three individuals who are considered as one "who denies the Torah":

a) one who says Torah, even one verse or one word, is not from God. If he says: "Moses made these statements independently," he is denying the Torah.

b) one who denies the Torah's interpretation, the oral law, or disputes [the authority of] its spokesmen as did Tzadok and Beitus.

c) one who says that though the Torah came from God, the Creator has replaced one mitzvah with another one and nullified the original Torah, like the Arabs [and the Christians].

Each of these three individuals is considered as one who denies the Torah.


שְׁלֹשָׁה הֵן הַנִּקְרָאִים אֶפִּיקוֹרְסִין. הָאוֹמֵר שֶׁאֵין שָׁם נְבוּאָה כְּלָל וְאֵין שָׁם מַדָּע שֶׁמַּגִּיעַ מֵהַבּוֹרֵא לְלֵב בְּנֵי הָאָדָם. וְהַמַּכְחִישׁ נְבוּאָתוֹ שֶׁל משֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ. וְהָאוֹמֵר שֶׁאֵין הַבּוֹרֵא יוֹדֵעַ מַעֲשֵׂה בְּנֵי הָאָדָם. כָּל אֶחָד מִשְּׁלֹשָׁה אֵלּוּ הֵן אֶפִּיקוֹרוֹסִים. שְׁלֹשָׁה הֵן הַכּוֹפְרִים בַּתּוֹרָה. הָאוֹמֵר שֶׁאֵין הַתּוֹרָה מֵעִם ה' אֲפִלּוּ פָּסוּק אֶחָד אֲפִלּוּ תֵּבָה אַחַת אִם אָמַר משֶׁה אֲמָרוֹ מִפִּי עַצְמוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה כּוֹפֵר בַּתּוֹרָה. וְכֵן הַכּוֹפֵר בְּפֵרוּשָׁהּ וְהוּא תּוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה וְהַמַּכְחִישׁ מַגִּידֶיהָ כְּגוֹן צָדוֹק וּבַיְתּוֹס. וְהָאוֹמֵר שֶׁהַבּוֹרֵא הֶחֱלִיף מִצְוָה זוֹ בְּמִצְוָה אַחֶרֶת וּכְבָר בָּטְלָה תּוֹרָה זוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִיא הָיְתָה מֵעִם ה' כְּגוֹן הָהַגְרִים. כָּל אֶחָד מִשְּׁלֹשָׁה אֵלּוּ כּוֹפֵר בַּתּוֹרָה:


Among Israel, there are two categories of apostates: an apostate in regard to a single mitzvah and an apostate in regard to the entire Torah.

An apostate in regard to a single mitzvah is someone who has made a practice of willfully committing a particular sin [to the point where] he is accustomed to committing it and his deeds are public knowledge. [This applies] even though [the sin] is one of the minor ones. For example, someone who has made a practice of constantly wearing sha'atnez or cutting off his sideburns so that it appears that, in regard to him, it is as if this mitzvah has been nullified entirely. Such a person is considered an apostate in regard to that matter. This applies [only] if he [commits the sin] with the intent of angering God.

An example of an apostate in regard to the entire Torah is one who turn to the faith of the gentiles when they enact [harsh] decrees [against the Jews] and clings to them, saying: "What value do I have in clinging to Israel while they are debased and pursued. It's better to cling to those who have the upper hand." Such an individual is an apostate in regard to the entire Torah.


שְׁנַיִם הֵם הַמּוּמָרִים מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל. הַמּוּמָר לַעֲבֵרָה אַחַת וְהַמּוּמָר לְכָל הַתּוֹרָה כֻּלָּהּ. מוּמָר לַעֲבֵרָה אַחַת זֶה שֶׁהֶחֱזִיק עַצְמוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹת אוֹתָהּ עֲבֵרָה בְּזָדוֹן וְהֻרְגָּל וְנִתְפַּרְסֵם בָּהּ אֲפִלּוּ הָיְתָה מִן הַקַּלּוֹת כְּגוֹן שֶׁהֻחְזַק תָּמִיד לִלְבֹּשׁ שַׁעַטְנֵז אוֹ לְהַקִּיף פֵּאָה וְנִמְצָא כְּאִלּוּ בָּטְלָה מִצְוָה זוֹ מִן הָעוֹלָם אֶצְלוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה מוּמָר לְאוֹתוֹ דָּבָר וְהוּא שֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה לְהַכְעִיס. מוּמָר לְכָל הַתּוֹרָה כֻּלָּהּ כְּגוֹן הַחוֹזְרִים לְדָתֵי הָעוֹבְדֵי כּוֹכָבִים בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁגּוֹזְרִין גְּזֵרָה וְיִדְבַּק בָּהֶם וְיֹאמַר מַה בֶּצַע לִי לְהִדַּבֵּק בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁהֵם שְׁפָלִים וְנִרְדָּפִים טוֹב לִי שֶׁאֶדַּבֵּק בְּאֵלּוּ שֶׁיָּדָם תַּקִּיפָה. הֲרֵי זֶה מוּמָר לְכָל הַתּוֹרָה כֻּלָּהּ:


[The category of] "those who cause the many to sin" includes those who cause them to commit a severe sin like Jeroboam, Tzadok, or Beitus; and also, those who cause them to commit a slight sin, even the nullification of a positive command.

It includes [both] those who force others to sin like Menasheh who would kill the Jews if they did not worship idols and those who entice others and lead them astray.


מַחֲטִיאֵי הָרַבִּים כֵּיצַד. אֶחָד שֶׁהֶחְטִיא בְּדָבָר גָּדוֹל כְּגוֹן יָרָבְעָם וְצָדוֹק וּבַיְתּוֹס. וְאֶחָד שֶׁהֶחְטִיא בְּדָבָר קַל אֲפִלּוּ לְבַטֵּל מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה. וְאֶחָד הָאוֹנֵס אֲחֵרִים עַד שֶׁיֶּחְטְאוּ כִּמְנַשֶּׁה שֶׁהָיָה הוֹרֵג אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל עַד שֶׁיַּעַבְדוּ עֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים, אוֹ שֶׁהִטְעָה אֲחֵרִים וְהִדִּיחָם:


A person who separates himself from the community [may be placed in this category] even though he has not transgressed any sins. A person who separates himself from the congregation of Israel and does not fulfill mitzvot together with them, does not take part in their hardships, or join in their [communal] fasts, but rather goes on his own individual path as if he is from another nation and not [Israel], does not have a portion in the world to come.

"Those who proudly commit sins in public as Jehoyakim did," whether they commit slight sins or severe ones, have no portion in the world to come. Such behavior is referred to as "acting brazen-facedly against the Torah," for he acted insolently, in open [defiance], without feeling any shame despite the Torah's words.


הַפּוֹרֵשׁ מִדַּרְכֵי צִבּוּר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא עָבַר עֲבֵרוֹת אֶלָּא נִבְדָּל מֵעֲדַת יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאֵינוֹ עוֹשֶׂה מִצְוֹת בִּכְלָלָן וְלֹא נִכְנָס בְּצָרָתָן וְלֹא מִתְעַנֶּה בְּתַעֲנִיתָן אֶלָּא הוֹלֵךְ בְּדַרְכּוֹ כְּאֶחָד מִגּוֹיֵי הָאָרֶץ וּכְאִלּוּ אֵינוֹ מֵהֶן אֵין לוֹ חֵלֶק לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. הָעוֹשֶׂה עֲבֵרוֹת בְּיָד רָמָה כִּיהוֹיָקִים בֵּין שֶׁעָשָׂה קַלּוֹת בֵּין שֶׁעָשָׂה חֲמוּרוֹת אֵין לוֹ חֵלֶק לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. וְזֶהוּ הַנִּקְרָא מְגַלֶּה פָּנִים בַּתּוֹרָה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֵעֵז מִצְחוֹ וְגִלָּה פָּנָיו וְלֹא בּוֹשׁ מִדִּבְרֵי תּוֹרָה:


There are two categories of "those who betray Jews to gentiles:" one who betrays a colleague to the gentiles so that they may kill him or beat him; and one who gives over a colleague's money to gentiles or to a person who commandeers property and is, therefore, considered like a gentile.

Neither of the two has a portion in the world to come.


שְׁנַיִם הֵם הַמּוֹסְרִין. הַמּוֹסֵר חֲבֵרוֹ בְּיַד עַכּוּ''ם לְהָרְגוֹ אוֹ לְהַכּוֹתוֹ. וְהַמּוֹסֵר מָמוֹן חֲבֵרוֹ בְּיַד עַכּוּ''ם אוֹ בְּיַד אַנָּס שֶׁהוּא כְּעַכּוּ''ם. וּשְׁנֵיהֶם אֵין לָהֶם חֵלֶק לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא:


"Those who cast fear upon the people for reasons other than the service of God" - This refers to one who rules the community with a strong hand and [causes] them to revere and fear him. His intent is only for his own honor and none of his desires are for God's honor; for example, the gentile kings.


מַטִּילֵי אֵימָה עַל הַצִּבּוּר שֶׁלֹּא לְשֵׁם שָׁמַיִם זֶה הָרוֹדֶה צִבּוּר בְּחָזְקָה וְהֵם יְרֵאִים וּמְפַחֲדִים מִמֶּנּוּ וְכַוָּנָתוֹ לִכְבוֹד עַצְמוֹ וְכָל חֲפָצָיו שֶׁלֹּא לִכְבוֹד שָׁמַיִם כְּגוֹן מַלְכֵי הָעַכּוּ''ם:


All the twenty four individuals listed above will not receive a portion in the world to come even though they are Jewish.

There are other sins which are less severe than those mentioned. Nevertheless, our Sages said that a person who frequently commits them will not receive a portion in the world to come and [counseled] that these [sins] be avoided and care be taken in regard to them. They are:

one who invents a [disparaging] nickname for a colleague; one who calls a colleague by a [disparaging] nickname;

one who embarrasses a colleague in public;

one who takes pride in his colleague's shame;

one who disgraces Torah Sages;

one who disgraces his teachers;

one who degrades the festivals; and

one who profanes sacred things.

When does the statement that these individuals do not have a portion in the world to come apply? When they die without having repented. However, if such a person repents from his wicked deeds and dies as a Baal-Teshuvah, he will merit the world to come, for nothing can stand in the way of Teshuvah.

Even if he denies God's existence throughout his life and repents in his final moments, he merits a portion in the world to come as implied by [Isaiah 57:19] "`Peace, peace, to the distant and the near,' declares God. `I will heal him.'"

Any wicked person, apostate, or the like, who repents, whether in an open, revealed manner or in private, will be accepted as implied by [Jeremiah 3:22] "Return, faithless children." [We may infer] that even if one is still faithless, as obvious from the fact that he repents in private and not in public, his Teshuvah will be accepted.


כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד מֵעֶשְׂרִים וְאַרְבָּעָה אֲנָשִׁים אֵלּוּ שֶׁמָּנִינוּ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵן מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל אֵין לָהֶם חֵלֶק לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. וְיֵשׁ עֲבֵרוֹת קַלּוֹת מֵאֵלּוּ וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים שֶׁהָרָגִיל בָּהֶן אֵין לָהֶם חֵלֶק לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא (וּכְדֵי) [וּכְדַאי] הֵן לְהִתְרַחֵק מֵהֶן וּלְהִזָּהֵר בָּהֶן. וְאֵלּוּ הֵן. הַמְכַנֶּה שֵׁם לַחֲבֵרוֹ. וְהַקּוֹרֵא לַחֲבֵרוֹ בְּכִנּוּיוֹ. וְהַמַּלְבִּין פְּנֵי חֲבֵרוֹ בָּרַבִּים. וְהַמִּתְכַּבֵּד בִּקְלוֹן חֲבֵרוֹ. וְהַמְבַזֶּה תַּלְמִידֵי חֲכָמִים. וְהַמְבַזֶּה רַבּוֹתָיו. וְהַמְבַזֶּה אֶת הַמּוֹעֲדוֹת. וְהַמְחַלֵּל אֶת הַקָּדָשִׁים. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים שֶׁכָּל אֶחָד מֵאֵלּוּ אֵין לוֹ חֵלֶק לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא כְּשֶׁמֵּת בְּלֹא תְּשׁוּבָה אֲבָל אִם שָׁב מֵרִשְׁעוֹ וּמֵת וְהוּא בַּעַל תְּשׁוּבָה הֲרֵי זֶה מִבְּנֵי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא שֶׁאֵין לְךָ דָּבָר שֶׁעוֹמֵד בִּפְנֵי הַתְּשׁוּבָה. אֲפִלּוּ כָּפַר בָּעִקָּר כָּל יָמָיו וּבָאַחֲרוֹנָה שָׁב יֵשׁ לוֹ חֵלֶק לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה נז יט) "שָׁלוֹם שָׁלוֹם לָרָחוֹק וְלַקָּרוֹב אָמַר ה' וּרְפָאתִיו". כָּל הָרְשָׁעִים וְהַמּוּמָרִים וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן שֶׁחָזְרוּ בִּתְשׁוּבָה בֵּין בְּגָלוּי בֵּין בְּמַטְמוֹנִיּוֹת מְקַבְּלִין אוֹתָן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ירמיה ג יד) "שׁוּבוּ בָּנִים שׁוֹבָבִים". אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעֲדַיִן שׁוֹבָב הוּא שֶׁהֲרֵי בַּסֵּתֶר שָׁב וְלֹא בְּגָלוּי מְקַבְּלִין אוֹתוֹ בִּתְשׁוּבָה:

Published and copyright by Moznaim Publications, all rights reserved.
To purchase this book or the entire series, please click here.
The text on this page contains sacred literature. Please do not deface or discard.
Vowelized Hebrew text courtesy Torat Emet under CC 2.5 license.

The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
Download Rambam Study Schedules: 3 Chapters | 1 Chapter | Daily Mitzvah
Published and copyright by Moznaim Publications, all rights reserved.
To purchase this book or the entire series, please click here.
The text on this page contains sacred literature. Please do not deface or discard.
Vowelized Hebrew text courtesy Torat Emet under CC 2.5 license.
The text on this page contains sacred literature. Please do not deface or discard.