Advantages of Doing Teshuva out of Love
In the Aryeh Kaplan Reader article titled Yom Kippur Thoughts – A Good Day for Repentance, Rabbi Kaplan points out the tremendous advantages of doing teshuva out of love versus out of fear:
1) Your sins become merits
2) You require no further atonement even though we can’t bring a Korban these days
3) You are immediately forgiven for all your sins, even those involving Koreis or Chillul Hashem
Teshuva out of Love is Very Possible in Our Generation
Rabbi Kaplan refutes the claim that many make that it is hard to reach this level with all the distraction we face these days. He believes that people today are more equipped to have a love of G-d than previous generations especially in our close-to-Moshiach times.
He points out that most Baalei Teshuva didn’t return because they had visions of Gehinnom before their eyes, but rather because they have a special love for Judaism and G-d.
Ideas on How to Do Teshuva out of Love
1) Set aside 15 minutes at the beginning of Yom Kippur and think about all G-d has done for us and the greatness of G-d’s deeds and works.
2) Recite the Shomoneh Esrai with strong kavanah on Yom Kippur, especially the first brocha which serves as a method of defining G-d to ourselves
The brocha use terms like “the great, might, awesome G-d”, If we say this brocha and all its words with concentration, carefully, slowly and thinking about the meaning of every word, will at the moment come to tremendous love for G-d.
He will think that “I love G-d so much. I want to be so close to Him. How could I have possibly sinned?” This will inevitable bring a person to Teshuva with love.
Go for It
The little skeptic inside us might be saying, “you can’t do Teshuva out of love”, but let’s use the power of the day of Yom Kippur to focus in the first brocha and to recognize G-d’s greatness which will lead to teshuva from love. We can do it and it really is what Hashem wants.
this post helped me a lot. and i told it yesterday at the short break to a friend of mine who was also excited about this perspective of love.
You can think Hashem is wonderful while simultaneously thinking yourself unworthy.
If our generation is able to love more than fear G-d, it is also rife with just such insecurity.
Teshuva from love is great for the insecure because it reaffirms that G-d really loves and cares about me, with the unconditional love of a parent (= the “Avinu” part of Avinu-Malkeinu).
Unfortunately a lot of the Yom Kippur liturgy can be very hard on a person who already feels unworthy…
Rav Steinsaltz, in his short book Ohr Pnei Melech, points out that Rosh HaShana is a return to ourselves – to seeing ourselves as worthy children of G-d under our befouled garments. Yom Kippur is then return to G-d, through teshuva on the sins that have disfigured and distorted us. This is perhaps a more hopeful approach for the insecure…
On the other hand, many modern narcissists could use a good jolt of self-negation. :)
Gmar Chatima Tovah!
I heard it said (sorry, don’t remember the source) that during the Yamim Noraim we do teshuva out of fear, so our aveiros are zeroed out, but during Pesach we do teshuva out of love, so our aveiros are changed into mitzvos. That’s supposedly the significance of reading Shir HaShirim on Shabbos Chol Hamoed Pesach, it’s all about the love of Klal Yisroel and HKBH.
It’s a lot easier to change any behavior when you know this would please someone you really love.
Exellent, excellent post.