Rebbe Nachman of Breslov tells us, “G-d’s greatness is unfathomable: that is why teshuvah has such power. No matter how far you may have fallen – be it to the lowest depths – never despair, because you can always return to G-d. With just a little effort you can turn even your worst sins into merits. No matter where in the world you fall, you can easily come back to G-d. This is because of His unfathomable greatness. Nothing is beyond His power. Just never give up! Keep crying out, praying and pleading to G-d at all times” (Sichos HaRan #3).
Back in 2014, I shared this quote on social media. The responses I got were overwhelmingly positive. But there was one fellow who asked me in the comments section, “Even for avodah zara?” I explained that, yes, teshuvah helps even for a cardinal sin like avodah zara. He seemed satisfied with my response but his question got me thinking. Why was he asking about that particular sin? Why not murder or some other heinous act? Then I realized he was asking specifically about idol worship because it was a sin he had been involved with before becoming a baal teshuvah. He had surely repented from this sin but the question of whether or not G-d had truly forgiven him lingered in his mind. He doubted whether Rebbe Nachman’s words applied even to someone like him.
This is a mistake we are all susceptible to. We can erroneously believe that G-d’s mercy is extended to other people but that we aren’t worthy of it because we are somehow worse than everyone else. This is a trick of the yetzer hara. Rebbe Nachman is saying that even YOU can return to G-d despite the damage you’ve caused with your sins. This is because, as Rebbe Nachman says, “G-d’s greatness is unfathomable.” Meaning, we have no idea just how merciful G-d is, and how far He will go to prepare a path for us to return to Him if we truly desire to.