Three Essentials For Teshuvah

Rabbi Dovid Weissman speaks about Three Essentials of Teshuvah in reference to Yom Kippur.

In the Jewish tradition, repentance is called , a Hebrew word translated as “returning.” One of the Hebrew words for sin is chet, which in Hebrew means “to go astray.” Thus the idea of repentance in Jewish thought is a return to the path of righteousness.

Teshuvah can be done at any time, but the High Holiday season, and especially, is considered an especially auspicious time for it. The process of repentance, as laid out by Maimonides, includes three stages: confession, regret and a vow not to repeat the misdeed. The true penitent, Maimonides says, is the one who finds himself with the opportunity to commit the same sin again yet declines to do so. Prayer, charity and fasting are also said to help one win forgiveness.

There are two categories of sin in Jewish thought:

  1. Sins against God: Ritual infractions, such as breaking the Sabbath or eating non-kosher food.
  2. Sins against other people: Acts such as theft or slander

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