The Rabbi's hoarse voice surged forth from behind the crumbling podium. The worshippers stood, a sea of penitence from wall to wall, and as his words cascaded over them, they seemed to sway in waves of sorrow.

The ark was open; the sun about to set, and the Rabbi was exhorting his congregation to seize these last moments of the holy day of Yom Kippur to repent.

"In but a few moments we will begin the Ne'ilah prayer, and the gates of heaven will be open for the last time. We've been praying for hours now, and yet so many of us have kept our hearts closed to true repentance. My brethren, it's time to do teshuvah! Now's the time, this is our last chance! We must truly repent our past sins and resolve to never again distance ourselves from our Father in Heaven. Yidden, we must do teshuvah!" And a great wail rose from the people.

Two hours later, the Rabbi sat at the head of a festive meal, dressed in his Shabbat finery, conversing with his wife, the kids, guests from out of town, and the mood was markedly different. The abundance of food, his loquaciousness, but mostly the gaiety indicated that the seriousness of Yom Kippur had passed, and that they were indeed celebrating the acceptance of their prayers.

When dessert was interrupted by a knock on the door, nobody was surprised. People often came to visit with the Rabbi, even at odd hours, and it was assumed that a well-wisher was stopping by. But when Yossele the Ganif timorously opened the door, there was a collective astonishment. What brought the notorious town thief to the Rabbi's house the night after Yom Kippur?

"May I have a word with you?" asked Yossele of the Rabbi, and when the Rabbi nodded his yes, he lifted two oversized sacks from the floor behind him and followed the Rabbi to his office.

"Rabbi," began Yossele, "never in my life have I felt the way I did today. Your words seemed to pierce my very being, and suddenly I saw the evil I had done all the past years. So I have decided to do teshuvah. I've come here to return all the things I've taken. Here are the belongings of many members of our community. Let it be known that Yossele has repented from his evil ways and all those who've had robberies in the past can come and claim their belongings." And the rabbi saw a tear run down Yossele's cheek as he uttered the proclamation that would change his life.

The rabbi's elation propelled him from his seat. He got out from behind his desk and embraced Yossele, and then shook his hand vigorously, himself overcome with emotion. "Yossele, I cannot tell you how much this means. This is truly a momentous step for you, for me, for our community. I simply can't believe it, Yossele has decided to do teshuvah!" And he pumped his hand once again, escorted him to the door and sent him off with tears and blessings, and another hug.

The rabbi returned to his seat at the table, and took his time quieting the clamoring masses. He explained slowly, telling what everyone knew, Yossele's history and success as the town ganif. And then he spoke about what everyone had heard that day, repeating his rousing speech, explaining the power of words that truly come from the heart. And then, finally, he detailed how those very words had inspired Yossele to return from his evil ways, and how he had come, to this very house, to return all the stolen goods.

And then, amid the silence of the awed crowd, he raised his wrist to look at the time, ready to proclaim it time for Grace After Meals. He looked at his wrist, looked again, and then looked up at his family, aghast. His arm remained poised, outstretched, and suddenly its emptiness was glaringly obvious. The rabbi's Rolex was gone! His most prized possession, with him for ten years now, had vanished.

And, in a flash, he knew what it was. "Run, quick," he ordered his oldest son, "get Yossele the ganif. Make sure to bring him here now, whatever it takes."

When Yossele was escorted for the second time that night into the Rabbi's office, he looked as penitent as the first time, as if nothing had changed and he was still pure, untarnished by sin. And when the rabbi searched his pockets and extracted his Rolex, he looked at Yossele brokenly. "But Yossele, I thought that you did teshuvah!"

Yossele looked stricken, but also surprised, for how could the rabbi doubt his repentance? "Rabbi, I did do teshvah!"

And the Rabbi looked at the piece cradled in his hand and then up at Yossele. "But Yossele, if you repented, how could you go right on back to stealing?"

"Rabbi, I did do teshvah," Yossele repeated, "but teshuvah is teshuvah, and business is business."