Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “There is no moaning about our past wrongdoings”


Rabbi Steinsaltz writes:

To feel the need to repent means to realize that a change is imperative.

There is no moaning about our past wrongdoings: in contact with evil, you always get dirty, as surely as you get dirty in contact with dirt, even when you intend to remove it.

What is less common, some of us, more or less prone to masochism, might well take pleasure in arousing old memories of this kind.

When we say that we must avoid pondering over the past, we mean that we should not rethink and relive our past as it happened, with its faults and mistakes.

What we should ponder is our past as it ought to have been.

The main thrust of teshuvah is indeed to show the definite intention of changing the scheme of things.

Someone who repents, someone who, as we would say, does teshuvah, is someone who feels the need not only to redeem but to rebuild his past, in the literal sense of the term.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

From “Teshuvah” in The Strife of the Spirit

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