The following discourse from the Zohar was chosen by the holy Ari as the reading for "Chok L'Yisrael", Day Two of parashat Re'eh. It deals with repentance and is very suitable, since parashat Re'eh is read close to the time when Israel starts to say Selichot, or Penitential Prayers, leading up to Rosh Hashanah.

We have learned that there is nothing in the world that stands in the way [of G‑d accepting] repentance. Furthermore, everyone who returns [to G‑d, even the wicked,] is certainly received [in good favor] by the Holy One Blessed be He. And if he returns, he is summoned to the Path of Life.

The blemishes … prevented the light of the soul from inculcating a person's consciousness….

"Life" here refers to life in the True World, beyond the struggle of good and evil, which are part of a lower consciousness that fails to see the source of the Holy which is the world of Truth. The penitent (called a "Baal Teshuva") is "summoned" because divine providence guides him and assists him as he returns to the true path.

Then, even though he may have blemished that which he damaged, everything is repaired and all is restored to its pristine form.

The blemishes caused stains on one's own spiritual form. These stains, which prevented the light of the soul from inculcating a person's consciousness, are removed by sincere repentance, and the light returns unobstructed.

For even with regard to a decree concerning [which G‑d has made] an oath, [when one repents,] G‑d invites him back. As it is written, "Upon My Life, swears the Lord, even if Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah was a ring on My right hand, from there I would tear you off." (Jeremiah 22:24) And it is written [later in verse 30], "Write this man [Coniah] down as childless." Yet, after he returned in repentance it is written, "And the sons of Jeconiah: Assir, Shealtiel his son." (Chronicles I 3:17)

Repentance tears up decrees and judgments and breaks iron chains….

Elsewhere we learn that Jeconiah and Coniah are one and the same person. Indeed, he had children despite the divine decree.

From here we see that repentance tears up decrees and judgments and breaks iron chains [that signify the desires and habits binding the wicked to their bad ways], and there is no one who can stand in the way to prevent a Baal Teshuva from returning. This is what is referred to in the verse, "And they went out and they saw the carcasses of the men who transgress against Me." (Isaiah 66:24) The verse does not state that the people transgressed in the past; rather it states that they transgress in the present. They are still transgressing because they refuse to repent and gain relief for themselves from their transgressions. But when they will gain relief for themselves [by repenting] then certainly the Holy One, Blessed be He, will receive them.

Even animals and birds receive His mercy….

Therefore a person, even though he has transgressed against Him and caused an unfitting blemish on that place [in the higher sefirot], if he returns to G‑d, he will be accepted with mercy. G‑d is certainly full of compassion and is completely merciful on all the works of His hands. This is as stated in the verse "G‑d is good to all; and His mercies are over all His works." (Psalms 145:9) Even animals and birds receive His mercy, and if they receive His mercy, how much more so will people who acknowledge Him and know how to praise their Master. His Mercy will certainly reach them and dwell over them. This is what King David meant when he said, "Great is Your compassion, O G‑d; give me life according to Your justice." (Psalms 119:156)

Zohar, parashat Mishpatim, p. 106b; translation and commentary by Simcha-Shmuel Treister

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