TANYA, It has been taught in a Beraita at the end of Tractate Yoma: There are three types of atonement, and repentance accompanies each. If one neglects a positive commandment and repents, he is forgiven forthwith. If one violates a prohibition and repents, his repentance is tentative, and Yom Kippur atones.

[This means that though, in terms of fulfillment, positive commandments are superior and supersede prohibitions, this is because by performing a positive command one precipitates an illumination and flow into the higher worlds from the reflected Infinite Light, blessed be He, (in Zohar we find the 248 positive commandments equated with the 248 "organs of the King") and also onto his Divine soul, as we declare in the blessings, "Who has hallowed us with His commandments."

But concerning repentance, though the punishment for rebelling against His rule and not performing the King's word is commuted, nonetheless, that illumination is withheld.. . Our Sages apply the verse, "A misdeed that cannot be corrected," to neglecting the evening reading of Shema or . . . Though he will be scrupulous henceforth about reading the morning and evening Shema forevermore, his repentance is ineffectual in correcting what he once neglected.

By violating a prohibition, evil cleaves to his soul, he impairs its root and origin (in the garbs of the Ten Sefirot of Asiyah, as Tikunei Zohar writes, "You have fashioned garbs for them, from which souls for mankind fly forth. ..") Therefore there is no atonement for his own soul or higher until Yom Kippur, as is written, "He will atone for the holy place for the impurities of Israel and their sins ... before G‑d will you be purified." Before G‑d is stressed. Hence one dare not infer any leniency from this, G‑d forbid, in the positive commandments, particularly in Torah study. On the contrary, our Sages assert, "G‑d has pardoned idolatry . . ,"— though excision and capital punishment are involved,— "and did not pardon neglect of Torah study."]

If one commits a sin of excision or execution, repentance and Yom Kippur are tentative and sufferings scour (i.e., they complete the atonement. M'markin, the expression here, denotes scouring and rinsing to "polish" the soul. Kapara, atonement, is the term for cleaning, removing the impurities of the sin), as we find, "I shall remember with a rod their sins, and with afflictions their misdeeds."

Thus far the Beraita.

The commandment of repentance as required by the Torah is simply the abandonment of sin (cf. Sanhedrin, ch. 3; Choshen Mishpat, end of sect. 34, regarding witnesses). He must resolve in perfect sincerity never again to revert to folly to rebel against His rule, may He be blessed; he will never again violate the King's command, G‑d forbid, neither a positive command nor a prohibition.

This is the basic meaning of the term teshuvah, repentance, to return to G‑d with all his heart and soul, to serve Him, and to keep all His commandments. "Let the wicked abandon his way, and the sinful his thoughts, and return to G‑d..." Such statements abound: "Return unto the Lord your G‑d and hearken to His voice ... with all your heart..." and "Return O Israel until the Lord your G‑d ..." and "Bring us back, Lord, unto You ..." This is not at all the common conception that repentance is synonymous with fasting. Even where sufferings are the completion of atonement, as in the case of sins of excision or execution, G‑d brings the sufferings on the sinner. ("I shall remember with a rod," clearly specifies I.) When the repentance is acceptable before Him, as he returns to G‑d with all his heart and soul out of love, then following the initiative undertaken from below, and "As water reflects the countenance.. ," there is an awakening Above, arousing the love and kindness of G‑d, to scour his sin through affliction in this physical world. "For whom the Lord loves He chastises"

Therefore Maimonides and Sefer Mitzvot Gadol make no mention of fasting in the mitzvah of teshuvah, even for sins of excision or capital sins. They cite only confession and the plea for forgiveness— "They shall confess their sin .. ,"

But then we find in Joel, "Return to Me with all your hearts, with fasting and weeping ..." However this was to nullify the Heavenly decree that had already been issued, to expunge the sin of the generation through the affliction of locust. This is the justification for all fasts undertaken for any trouble threatening the community, as in the Book of Esther.

There are descriptions in the Musar literature, particularly the Rokeach and Sefer Chassidim, of numerous fasts and mortifications for excision and capital sins. The same is true of sins punished by death by divine agency, like wasteful emissions of semen, as the Torah recounts of Er and Onan. In this sense their judgment is identical. These fasts and mortifications are intended to avoid the punishment of suffering at the hand of fieaven, G‑d forbid, and also to urge on and expedite the conclusion of his soul's atonement. Also, perhaps he does not return to G‑d with all his heart and soul out of love, but only out of fear.