Return Vs. Repentance
What is the true nature of a human being? Is man giving and virtuous or selfish and narcissistic?Would you believe that the answer to this question is contained in one single Hebrew word, uncovering for us a revolutionary psychological model, which differs fundamentally from the prevalent secular model?
At best, many see the High Holidays (and Judaism in general) as a religious and cultural phenomenon. But few would imagine that this season provides us with tremendous insight into our psyches and can dramatically help us improve our personal lives and relationships. Yet, that is indeed the case.
And it’s captured in the one word teshuvah or shuvah – the name of this special day – Shabbat Shuvah (so called because today’s Haftarah reading begins:Shuvah Israel … “Return O Israel”), within the period called the Ten Days of Teshuvah.
Teshuvah means “return,” not like the conventional translation, “repentance.” Return is actually the opposite of repentance, for repentance means to leave something behind. It means to be filled with remorse and to regret a past wrongdoing, and to resolve never to returnto it again. But teshuvah means precisely to return. But return to what?
This sermon analyzes the subject of teshuvah – and the difference between it and repentance – revealing for us a radically refreshing perspective on human nature, which counters the idea suggested by the word repentance. We discover that when you dig into the inner recesses of the soul you find not the Id but the Yid…