Real teshuva or repentance is not the “one and done” act of saying a single prayer by which we confess our sins and profess our belief in a Saviour, and then go about business as usual. It is a continual process of elimination, the work of turning inward, turning back to the mirror of self, seeing who we are and who G-d has ultimately designed us to be. In order to become our true selves, we must constantly be self-evaluating, humbling ourselves, listening to the wise counsel of those who are closest to us and love us, and asking Hashem for the strength to overcome. When we overcome, we feel the great joy of our Father toward us, much as our earthly parents may cheer us on when we accomplish a difficult task, but there are always more hurdles to jump, more walls to scale, more doors to open.
The path to true repentance, as I have experienced it thus far, is found in the observance of mitzvot found within the pages of the Torah. Mitzvah is a special word that comes from the root tzavta, which means “to connect, or to bond.” It is through the denial of self, our own desires, and the doing of that which the Higher Power has said is pleasing to Him, that we learn to connect with our true potential and with our Beloved.
Hashem, described in the Bible as our Beloved Bridegroom, knows us inside and out. He is intimately aware of all that we are and all that we can be. We sadly, don’t know Him as well, but when we, as His Betrothed, undertake the observance of mitzvot with intention, we begin to encounter our Beloved more and more, because the Torah and all her commandments are the heart of our Beloved. As we begin to draw closer to Him in intimacy through the keeping of His commandments, we will, at the same time, be transforming into who we were always meant to be.
The cycle of repentance is both painful and beautiful; it is deep, deep valleys and glorious mountaintops. The process will prepare us, stretch us, and mold us for the most amazing encounter of our lives–to see our Beloved face to face–no veil between us blocking out the reality of our oneness with Him.
May we be found worthy of the calling with which we have been called.