The conventional translation for teshuvah is repentance.

This, however, is but one aspect, the aspect related to error, to sins of omission or commission.

The literal and real translation is "return." Return implies a two- fold movement. There is a source of origin from which one moved away and to which one wants to return.

The descent of the soul into this world is a move away.

Regardless of the lofty purposes to be achieved, the sublime goals to be attained, the fact remains that it is an exile. For the soul in its pristine state is bound up and absorbed in its source, in the very "bond of life with G‑d."

From this Place of Glory, the manifest Presence of G‑d, the soul is vested in a physical body, related to matter, exposed to and involved with the very antitheses of spirituality, of holiness.

To retain that original identity, to regain that original bond, that is the ultimate meaning of teshuvah. "And the spirit returns unto G‑d who gave it."

Teshuvah tata'a, the lower level of teshuvah, is rectification, an erasure of the past.

On a higher level, teshuvah is "coming home," a reunion. The child separated and lost, driven to return with a consuming passion, pleads: "It is Your countenance, G‑d, that I seek! Do not conceal Your countenance from me!"

The innermost point of the heart longs for Divinity so intensely that "his soul is bonded to the love of G‑d, continuously enraptured by it like the love-sick whose mind is never free from his passion.... and as Solomon expressed allegorically: (97) `For I am sick with love.'

This higher sense of teshuvah - teshuvah ila'a, supreme teshuvah - relates to the tzaddik, the faultless, as well.

The Torah is given to all of Israel, to every Jew. Nothing in Torah is superfluous. Nothing in Torah is the exclusive heritage of some only. Everything in Torah speaks to every individual, relates to every one. It is only by way of the whole Torah that anyone can become a whole person. Every mitzvah serves its purpose. Every instruction is directly relevant to the macrocosm of the universe and the microcosm of every man.

Teshuvah is an integral part of Torah.

It manifests itself in numerous precepts and instructions.

"Every one of the prophets charged the people concerning teshuvah." Teshuvah thus must relate to the righteous, to the saint, no less than to the sinner. Alternatively, the righteous would be missing out on a significant part of Torah. Teshuvah ila'a thus relates to the tzaddik as well.

Teshuvah ila'a reaches where a normative ascent, a behavior that is faultless yet gradual and normative, cannot reach. It moves man to jump, to leap, blinding him to everything but his objective, disregarding all and any obstacles in the pursuit and attainment of the ultimate goal. In this context the tzaddik, too, becomes a ba'al teshuvah, "one possessed of teshuvah," a personification of teshuvah.

Teshuvah ila'a does not mean a withdrawal of man from the world.

It reveals G‑d *IN* the world: omnipresence in the most literal sense, an encompassing awareness and a penetrating consciousness of the reality and presence of G‑d.

"To cleave unto Him, for He is your life;" ..."there is nothing else beside Him."

There is a total negation of ego, a total submersion of personal will in the Supreme Will. Not two entities brought together, but absorption and union to the point of unity.

"This mitzvah which I command you this day is not beyond your reach nor is it far off...." Generally, this verse refers to the entire Torah.

In context with the preceding passage it is also interpreted to refer specifically to the principle of teshuvah. "Even if your outcasts be in the outermost parts of Heaven"... and you are under the power of the nations, you can yet return unto G‑d and do "according to all that I command you this day." For teshuvah "is not beyond reach nor is it far off," but "it is exceedingly near to you, in your mouth and in your heart to do it."

"One hour of bliss in the World to Come is better than all the life of this world." Yet "one hour of teshuvah and good deeds in *THIS* world is better than all the life in the World to Come!"

"Well," said the Rebbe, "do teshuvah, and the rest will follow of itself!"