As for the wicked man, if he should return from all his sins that he committed and guard all my decrees, and do justice and righteousness, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions which he committed will not be remembered against him....Do I then desire the death of the wicked, says G‑d, the Eternal G‑d, is it not rather his return from his ways, that he may live? (Ezekiel 18)

Teshuvah is a principle indispensable to religion, indispensable to the existence of individuals believing in the Torah. For it is impossible for man not to sin and err - either by erroneously adopting an opinion or moral quality which in truth is not commendable, or else by being overcome by passion and anger.

If man were to believe that this fracture can never be remedied, he would persist in his error and perhaps even add to his disobedience.

The belief in teshuvah, however, leads him to improvement, to come to a state that is better, nearer to perfection, than that which obtained before he sinned. That is why the Torah prescribes many actions that are meant to establish this correct and very useful principle of teshuvah."

Without teshuvah the world could not endure. Without teshuvah man could not but despair, crushed by the burden of his errors. Torah is the foundation of the universe, it assures and sustains its existence. Teshuvah insures its survival.

The power of teshuvah is overawing.

There is absolutely nothing that stands in the way of teshuvah. The thread of teshuvah is woven throughout the whole tapestry of Torah, of our tradition. It is not simply a mitzvah, one of 613 channels to tie us to G‑d. It is a general, all-comprehensive principle, the backbone of religion.

There is no sin that cannot be mended and remedied by teshuvah.

Teshuvah removes a burdensome past and opens the door to a new future.

It means renewal, rebirth.

The ba'al teshuvah becomes a different, a new, person.

It is much more than correction, more than rectification.

Teshuvah elevates to a status even higher than the one prior to all sin. Even the perfectly righteous are surpassed by the ba'al teshuvah.

Sin is time-consuming.

It is an evolutionary process. Man does not fall at once, suddenly. He is trapped by one wrong act or attitude, often seemingly innocuous, which leads to another. When failing to recognize and stop this process, a chain reaction is set into motion and leads to the mire of evil.

Teshuvah, however, even in the worst of cases, is immediate.

"Ba'alai teshuvah are meritorious. For in the span of..... one instant they draw close to the Holy One, blessed be He, more so than the perfectly righteous who draw near..... over the span of many years!"

As teshuvah is not part of a gradual process and development, it is not subject to any order, to the "bureaucracy" of a normative procedure.

It is a jump, a leap. A momentary decision to tear oneself away. One turn. One thought.

And thus it affects even law, justice: When someone betrothes a woman on condition that "I am a tzaddik, a righteous person without sin," the betrothal is valid and binding even if he was known to be absolutely wicked. How so? Because at that very moment of proposal he may have meditated teshuvah in his mind!

The single thought, the momentary meditation of teshuvah, is sufficient to move man from the greatest depths to the greatest heights.

Just one thought, indeed; for the essence of teshuvah is in the mind, in the heart. It is a mental decision, an act of consciousness, awareness, commitment.