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October 7, 2015 / 24 Tishri, 5776
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Thoughts Make the Man

you are what you think

If he discovers sins he committed against others, and his strength is too feeble to correct them, one should not despair at all, thinking that t’shuva cannot help. For the sins which he has committed against God and repented over, they have already been forgiven. Thus, it should be viewed that the sins which are lacking atonement are outweighed by the t’shuva he was able to do. Still, he must be very careful not to transgress against anyone, and he must strive with great wisdom and courage to address all of the wrongs from the past, ‘Deliver thyself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, and like a bird from the hand of the fowler’ (Mishle, 6:5). However, let depression not overcome him because of the things he was unable to redress. Let him rather strengthen himself in the fortress of Torah, and in the service of God, with all of his heart, in happiness, reverence, and love” (Orot HaT’shuva, 7:6).

Even though a person has not yet been able to rectify every wrong against his fellow man, every thought of t’shuva has inestimable value. “Even the minutest measure of t’shuva awakens in the soul, and in the world, a great measure of holiness” (Ibid, 14:4).

The difficulty in mending the transgressions of the past should never bring a person to despair. For even if the thought of t’shuva is still undeveloped, even if one’s desire to do good contains a mixture of unrefined motives, Rabbi Kook assures us that its basic inner holiness is worth all of the wealth in the world.

About the Author: Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture for his novel "Tevye in the Promised Land." A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon.

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Tzvi Fishman, author of the Jewish Press blog Felafel on Rye and author of more than a dozen books.
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