The Importance of Repentance
After we’ve learned about the importance of the days of Shovavim in rectifying the sin of the breach of the covenant, we will review what we’ve learned in many places in the holy words of the ARI that speaks about the importance and preciousness of repentance and the rectification of the Nefesh (soul). May these holy words enter into our hearts and awaken us to achieve this and completely rectify ourselves.
Man is made from multiple parts. The highest parts of our being are connected to Hashem constantly. The lowest parts are connected to this physical world. We are pulled from both ends, above and below, and there is the yetzer hatov (good inclination) and yetzer hara (evil inclination) in the middle that are pulling us to the right and to the left. With all of this pulling in different directions we can get confused about our true identity, and about which parts of our being are the most dominant, physical or spiritual, positive or negative. What is the core of our being, and what are the side parts, which some are only temporary to fulfill a certain purpose.
Therefore the pasuk states
“There is no righteous man in the land that does good and doesn’t sin” (Kohelet 7:20)
“אין צדיק בארץ אשר יעשה טוב ולא יחטא“
“Ain Tzaddik Baaretz Asher Yaaseh Tov Veloh Yechatah”
We need to know that the true essence of ourselves is connected to Hashem constantly and only wants to serve Hashem, learning and keeping His Torah. The yetzer hara is there to challenge us, and this is for our own good. Through hard work, the lower parts of ourselves and the yetzer hara can be subdued and transformed to want to go in the way of truth.
When the soul is dirty and stained, it’s not possible to see and to grasp true perfection that is the deep secrets of the Torah. It is known that the sexual sins of the covenant harm the Nefesh. This sin creates a curtain between man and his Creator that stops one from seeing and comprehending the higher realms of purity and holiness.
As it is written,
“The Torah of God is perfect, returning the Soul” (Psalms 19:7)
” תורת ה׳ תמימה משיבת נפש“
“Torat Hashem Temimah Meshivat Nefesh”
It returns him to his place to cleave with his destined heritage. When one is not pure, he is not able to see this and he isn’t careful in his ways. For example, one may not be careful when working forming gold that is filled with stains and contains rust on it. He doesn’t see the potential form for it seems lowly and messy.
Why have a pure soul
When it is pure, only then he can recognize the forms as they should be in their true form, and treat them accordingly. It is the same with one’s Nefesh. When it is pure one can recognize holiness and the truth, but when it’s blemished and stained it can be difficult to see.
When the troubled man is in his despair, he despises good advice that will help him to connect to his Healer. His Healer must give him bitter-tasting medicines, knowing these medicines return a man to his original good condition. So it is with the soul that is blemished, to take away the blemish from the man he must take upon himself bitter types of remedies and make repentance with fasting, sackcloth, ash, mikvah and more to purify from his dirty state and remove the stains of his sins.
Once clean, he will avoid much suffering, and be able to comprehend higher concepts that are the secrets of the world, wisdom that is hidden from the days of yore and from the times of the Rashbi, that until now permission wasn’t given to reveal, until the later generations of the King Moshiach that is this time.
The Light of the ARIZ’L
By way of our great teacher the ARI, and through his spirit of Ruach Hakodesh (divine inspiration) that he was imbued with he began to enlighten our eyes with the light of this Godly wisdom that has been hidden from all people for so long, and is now revealed in order that we can be elevated and helped in our realm, and ultimately bring Moshiach and the final redemption, may it come speedily.
In their great wisdom, our sages have written that the upper realms depend upon the lower realms to run correctly, and Rashbi said that we need an awakening from below to above in order to help hasten the ushering in of the messianic age. All of our actions of Torah, mitzvoth, and Teshuva are helping to achieve this.
Just like an expert healer gives to all those who are sick the medicine that is needed to heal a specific ailment, so the ARI was able to recognize one’s sin, and reveal to him specifically what was wrong and prescribe a rectification that is needed for that particular sin to clean the Nefesh in order that he be better able to receive the upper light and much more, as is written
“I will wash your hearts from evil O Jerusalem in order for you to have salvation”. (Jeremiah 4 14)
“כבסי מרעה לבך ירושלים למען יושעי”
“Kivsi Mireh Livecha Yerushalayim Lemaan Yoshei”
Now, due to our sins, The ARI has left us and has been elevated to the heavenly realm and there isn’t another like him who is able to tell us what exactly is our personal tikkun based our own neshama and what we did in past lives. By doing the tikkun we need we can remove the separation that was made between us and God and get to a higher level. As the Prophet wrote
“For our sins make a separation between God and us.” (Isaiah 59)
. “כי אם עונותיכם הם מבדילים ביניכם לבין אלהיכם “
“Ki Im Avonotechem Hem Mavdilim Benechem Leben Elohechem”
The kabbalists of the previous generation made it so we can achieve our tikkun using the general method that works for everybody. This will be discussed in detail in later articles.
Our Rabbis said one who has the desire to do teshuvah and comes to be purified is helped along his path.
If one wishes to purify his Nefesh to enter into the Pardes of Wisdom in order to embrace the elevated holiness, it is necessary to make an accounting of one’s sins, whether in his youth or his old age, as it is written
“For the Heart of man inside him is evil from youth” (Gen 8:21)
” כי יצר לב האדם רע מנעוריו“
“Ki Yetzer Lev Haadam Ra Meneurav”
How to do Teshuva properly
The remedy is to search out each and every sin to be able to know the place that the breach occurs, and what type of repentance is necessary to make to rectify the damage of that particular sin. This we learned from the mouth of the ARI, who revealed the intentions and rectifications that we need for each individual sin.
We are also able to rectify what we did in previous incarnations, and remove the need to reincarnate again along with other punishments, and completely return to God, may He have mercy on us and enlighten our eyes, and open our hearts to recognize and understand great wonders and secrets kept in the Holy Perfect Torah.
We learn here how great is the importance of rectification of the Nefesh, and how much this will purify man and elevate him to his true goal of being to be attached to The Blessed Holy one.
It is possible for all those that desire to come close to God to rectify and purify themselves, even if one feels like he is being overtaken, God forbid, by the evil urge and desires of this world to the point he is unable to find the door of holiness.
All one has to do is open the door and ascend to the mountain of God as it is written
“This is the Gate of God the Righteous may enter” (Psalms 118:20)
“וזה השער לה׳ צדיקים יבואו בו”
“VeZeh Hashaar LaHashem Tzaddikim Yavou Bo”
The ARI writes in the Gate of Intentions, Derush of the Night, on repentance. When sins are found in one’s Nefesh, the Husks that are now cleaving to it aren’t allowing it to ascend when they sleep, and therefore when saying confession before bed with a pure heart we separate the husks that are in the world of Asiyah from the Nefesh. Through this action, one is able to elevate their soul when they sleep and ascend to many upper worlds.
The righteous are called the sons of Elohim, in that they freely give their soul each night after reading Kriat Shema on their bed, and they admit their sin before they sleep. They make Ma”n (mai nukvin/ feminine waters) for the Shechinah when giving up their Ruach in the secret of “In Your Hand, I Leave My Spirit” (Psalms 31:5)
״בידך אפקיד רוחי״
“Beyadecha Afkid Ruchi”
The Malchut then purifies his soul
If proper repentance and tikunim are done, one merits to be purified in life and no longer needs to enter into Gehinom after death, unlike the wicked.
It is important to know that a man has to be involved in the rectification of his Nefesh, even if he toils in Torah. Some ask, “why should I be involved in rectifications and fasts, isn’t it enough that I learn Torah?”
It does say in the Gemara that a talmud chacham shouldn’t fast and not learn, but the ARI explains that this is for someone that never sinned. However, if someone sinned, he says they need to do fast and do the tikkunim necessary to fix it.
Know that if people don’t remove the husks from themselves through repentance and tikunim, the husks draw some of the holinesses from the Torah and good deeds they do to the evil side of creation.
When he returns in repentance and does the tikunim, he gets back the holiness and power that he gave into the husks and then brings it back to the side of holiness, and on this, it is written
“Wealth was swallowed and will be vomited back” (Job 20:15)
“חיל בלע ויקיאנו“
“Chayil Bala Vayakienu”
Therefore, with repentance you return holiness to its place, changing past sins to mitzvoth.
From this, we know what our Rabbis wrote regarding “My sins become merits.”(Yoma 86:b)
Torah and good deeds then become very powerful after repentance, and it is better received before God.
So we see how important and powerful repentance and the tikunim are. It is good to repent and do tikunim for all sins of the Torah, even ones that people are sure they didn’t do, because they may have in a past incarnation. Also, it is good to repent and do the tikunim on behalf of all of the people of Israel. This is why in viduy/Confession, we say sins in plural form, Ashamnu Bagadnu etc., even if we know we didn’t do them. There is a tikun that includes all the tikunim in one that is good for covering past incarnations.
The Light of the Rashas’h
This is the reason Rabenu HaRashash fixed the order of Confession in the prayer of Anenu to say this.
We and our fathers and the men of our house and all that come from the root of our Nafshenu Ruchenu Nishmatenu and their enclothings and their close ones from the entire Atzilut Beriah Yetzirah and Asiah and from all parts of Atzilut Beriah Yetzirah and Asiah of all Partzufim and Sefirot in all parts of Atzilut Beriah Yetzirah and Asiah the inner and outer inner and surrounding of Yosher and Igulim in this incarnation and incarnations that I passed through from the day I was born until this day.
We learn from the Holy Language of Rabenu Harashash that first, a man must confess for himself and afterwards for his family and afterwards for all who are mixed with them in the entire nation of Israel and afterwards make a confession on all past incarnations.
It is important to know that even though we can affect others with the tikkun we do, it is still better they do it themselves if they can. So if they are able to then they should. Hashem is judging us according to our capabilities.
The tikunim/rectifications are applicable to each and every person in whatever situation they might be in.
Once one is pure, then it is proper that they accept the yoke of the kingdom of heaven to make every thought word and deed true to the will of God.
He is then able to draw closer and cleave with the blessed Holy One in truth, without any curtain separating, and he will merit to comprehend the true goal in living his life in this world.
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