However, all this refers to atonement and forgiveness of the sin— he is pardoned completely for having violated the command of the King when he has done a full repentance. No charge or semblance of accusation is made against him on the day of judgment to punish him for his sin, G‑d forbid, in the World to Come. He is completely exonerated from the judgment to come.

Nonetheless, that he may be acceptable before G‑d, as beloved of Him as before the sin, that his Creator may derive delight from his service— in past times he would bring an olah offering. This offering was brought even for an ordinary positive commandment that involves no excision or execution. In Torat Kohanim there is a comment on the verse, "It shall be accepted for him," and we find in the Talmud, Zevachim chapter I, that the olah offering atones for positive commandments; it is a "gift" after he has done penance and the punishment was commuted.

If one displeases his king and appeases him through an intercessor, and the king does forgive him, still he will send an appropriate gift to the king that the king might agree that he appear again before his sovereign. (The expression "atones" we quoted from the Talmud, and in the verse, "It will be accepted for him to atone for him," does not refer to the soul's atonement for the sin, but rather his "restoration" before G‑d. Now the Creator may derive delight from him, as the Talmud remarks there, and as the verse, "It shall be perfect, to be desired.")

Today we have no offerings to call forth G‑d's pleasure; fasting replaces the offering. The Talmud says, "May my loss of fat and blood be regarded as though I had offered before You ..."

Therefore there are many cases of Talmudic sages, who for some trivial fault underwent a great many fasts. Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah contended that a cow may go out (wearing) its strap between its horns on Shabbat while his colleagues prohibited it. Once a neighbour's cow went out with its strap and R. Elazar did not hinder her. Because he did not support his colleagues, he fasted so long that his teeth were blackened. Rabbi Joshua once remarked, "I am ashamed of your words, Beit Shammai." His teeth too turned black through fasting. Rav Huna, because his tefilin strap once turned over, endured forty fasts. There are many such incidents.

With this precedent, the Ari taught his disciples, according to Kabbala principles, the number of fasts for many transgressions, though they entail no excision or death by divine agency. Examples: for anger— 151 fasts; even for a Rabbinic prohibition like stam yainam— seventy-three fasts; for neglecting a positive Rabbinic enactment like worship— sixty-one fasts.

In general, the mystery of the fast is remarkably effective for the revelation of the Supreme Will, similar to the offering, of which it is said, "An aroma pleasing to G‑d." In Isaiah we find, "Do you call this a fast and a day desirable to G‑d!" Obviously, an acceptable fast is a "desirable day."