08 septiembre 2010

El significado de Teshuva

Serie de Vídeos sobre la Teshuva

Reb Zusha's Acronym

Y un texto


The central theme of Yom Kippur is teshuva,commonly translated as "repentance." We hear so much about this term, but what, in fact does it truly mean?

On the simplest behavioral level, writes Maimonides, teshuvah involves "returning" to a situation in which one had previously failed, and not making the same mistake a second time. (Laws of Repentance 2:1) It means being given a second chance. No wonder, Yom Kippur has elements of joy. We celebrate being given a second chance. In too many of lifes pursuits, we are given only one shot. If we miss, its all over. On Yom Kippur, God says, "no matter if you have failed before; you can still return."

A chassid once asked his rebbe, "why pray on Yom Kippur, after all, well inevitably sin again." In response, the rebbe asked him to look out the window behind him. Outside was a toddler learning to walk. "What do you see?" asked the master. "A child, standing and falling," replied the disciple. Day after day the chassid returned to witness the same scene. At the weeks end, the child stood and didnt fall. The childs eyes expressed the achievement of having attained the impossible. "So with us," said the rebbe. "We may fail again and again, but in the end, a loving God gives us the opportunities we need to succeed."

The mystics understand teshuvah differently. For them, teshuvah means "returning," to being righteous. But suppose one has never been righteous, what does one return to? Says the Sefat Emet, the soul of every person is fundamentally righteous. There may be a layer of evil obscuring the inner being, but all people created in the image of God are inherently good. Teshuvah then, means to return to the inner kernel of goodness we all possess. And so, we sing, and dance on Yom Kippur. We celebrate the opportunity to discover our true selves.

Another classic story. Reb Zusha was on his death bed, and tears were streaming down his face. "Why are you crying?" asked his disciples. "If God asks me why I wasnt like Moses or Maimonides," answered Reb Zusha, "Ill say, I wasnt blessed with that kind of leadership ability and wisdom." But Im afraid of another question," continued Reb Zusha, "what if God asks, Reb Zusha, why werent you like Reb Zusha? Why didnt you find your inner being and realize your inner potential? Why didnt you find yourself? That is why I am crying."

A third approach. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, among many other thinkers, understands teshuvah to mean "answer." That is to say teshuvah is a dialogue. On Yom Kippur we stand before God, a caring God who asks the question(s). We offer the answer(s). A God of love seeks us out. As much as we are in search of Him, He is in search of us. A comforting thought on Yom Kippur.

Yet another chassidic legend. A young girl came to the Baal Shem Tov - the father of chassidism "Why do you cry?" the rebbe lovingly asked. "I was playing hide and seek," said the young girl, "but no one came looking for me." "So, too, is it with God," reflected the Baal Shem Tov. "He, too, is crying. For as much as He is looking for us, we rarely look for Him."

Rabbi Avi Weiss

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