The [parent] maamar proceeds to explain that the service of teshuvah exists among “many simple people who are not masters of understanding and comprehension…. Nevertheless, they are powerfully aroused to teshuvah and they cry with bitterness of soul. Wecan actually see how they recite Tehillim with a broken heart.”

Now the bitterness associated with teshuvah is not relevant in our generation, the generation of ikvesa demeshicha,1 for in our generation, we do not have the strength [to bear] the bitterness of teshuvah. On the contrary, we require extensive reinforcement and support. Therefore, in our generation, the service of teshuvah should be expressed through joy. This also applies to the recitation of Tehillim with a broken heart referred to in the above-mentioned maamar. [Instead, in our generation, Tehillim should be recited with happiness and joy.]

[To explain:] There is a well-known adage of our Rebbeim (communicated by my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, and recorded in print):2 Tracht gut, vet zain gut, “Think positively and the outcome will be good,” i.e., that positive thinking itself brings about a positive and favorable result. Thus there is absolutely no need for bitterness, reciting Tehillim with an embittered soul, giving charity [in a contrite spirit],3 and the like.

Now this adage, “Think positively and the outcome will be good,” constitutes a promise from our Rebbeim. We can thus rest assured that thinking positively will lead to [a favorable outcome. As will be explained,] the certainty of this assurance is reflected in the fact there is a story concerning the Tzemach Tzedek quoted [that illustrates how this approach] indeed proved effective. He instructed one of his chassidim:4 Tracht gut, vet zain gut, “Think positively and the outcome will be good,” and, indeed, the outcome was good.

Now, we are speaking about an event that [actually] occurred [and not mere theory]. [Moreover,the Tzemach Tzedek made his statement as] a directive to be applied in practice5 , 6 and the instance in question involved a person’s physical health. From that, we be certain that it applies to spiritual health. Since the matter was publicized by the Nasi of our generation and it has already been recorded in print,7 it is evident that it serves as a directive for each and every Jew.

From all the above, it is clear that our Divine service must be characterized by joy. Thus, [Tanya,] Iggeres HaTeshuvah,8 explains that the intent of the verse,9 “My sins are always before me,” is not that one should be sad and downcast, G‑d forbid, at all times. Instead, the intent of the term נגדי, translated as “before me,” is “from afar,” as indicated by the verse that follows:10 “Let me hear joy and gladness,” i.e., immediately after a very brief moment of bitterness — “a broken and contrite heart”11 there should be a full measure of joy and gladness, as [King David,] “the composer of sweet songs for Israel,”12 states: “Let me hear joy and gladness.”

Moreover, it is explained in Iggeres HaTeshuvah13 that te­shuvah which stems from bitterness is teshuvah tataah, the lower rung of teshuvah.14 In contrast, teshuvah that is characterized by happiness is considered teshuvah ilaah, the higher rung of teshuvah.15 Now, after all the travails and suffering [that our people have experienced] in our generation — the generation of ikvesa demeshicha —the entire Jewish people are on the highest and most sublime spiritual level. For, [as our Sages teach:16 ] “suffering purges17 [the blemishes of sin],” refining, purifying, and elevating. Thus [when our people’s spiritual stature is seen in the context of their recent history, it is apparent] that the higher rung of teshuvahteshuvah characterized by joy — is relevant to them.

There is a further point. As explained in Iggeres HaTeshuvah,18 [it is desirable to experience] the lower rung of teshuvah, teshuvah that stems from bitterness, [at least] once a week, [and the optimum time for this experience is] before Shabbos, i.e., on Thursday night. Now, [within the context of the history of the world as a whole,] it is close to the end of the sixth millennium. [Following the conception that “the day of the Holy One, blessed be He, is a millennium,”]19 we are drawing close to the end of Friday.20 It is not merely early on Friday — and it is [certainly] not Thursday night. It is late on Friday, near the end of the day, very close to Shabbos.21 If so, it is obvious that the Divine service of this era must be carried out in the spirit of happiness that accompanies the higher rung of teshuvah.22


At the time of the delivery of the parent maamar, teshuvah was expressed through “crying with bitterness of soul.” In our generation, such an approach to teshuvah is not appropriate. Instead, teshuvah should be expressed through joy.

Teshuvah through joy is identified with teshuvah ilaah, the higher rung of teshuvah. The desired order is to proceed from the lower level of teshuvah, teshuvah associated with bitterness, to the higher rung of teshuvah, teshuvah associated with joy. When our generation is viewed in its historical context, coming after the Holocaust and being brief moments before the coming of Mashiach, it is obvious that our teshuvah should be characterized by joy.