Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “Our souls are not far from God.”

“The urge to repent grows out of the realization that it is necessary to change.

Lamenting our past wrongdoing will not serve us, for contact with evil is inescapable.

We must avoid, too, pondering the past and reliving it as it happened — complete with faults and mistakes.

Rather, we should meditate on it, as it ought to have been. The main thrust of teshuva is not only to redeem, but to rebuild, the past.

But here, we must address a looming epistemological obstacle:

Because time is strictly unidirectional, we cannot revert to some previous moment.

As a result, our efforts to engage in teshuva are, at best, paradoxical.

We must remember, however, that we do not undertake teshuva in a conventional universe.

We do teshuva in a universe that transcends physical laws — a universe in which the present, the future, and the past merge into a timeless continuum, a universe in which a lethal arrow can fly back into its quiver and be as free of suspicion as if it had never left.

In brief, teshuva transports us into a state of weightlessness, where opposing polarities (of plus and minus) reverse at will and standard metrics are suspended.

To enter this state, we will have to truly know ourselves; we will have to sound our souls.

And if our goal is not only to repent, but to accomplish an about-face, our challenge will be still greater, for we will have to reach the innermost depths of our being, the nadir of the abyss, as it were. In this realm, we are entitled to believe that our souls are not far from God.

Unless we reach this zone, we cannot be convinced that a radical change has taken place deep down in our hearts, a change that is capable of transcending all the rules of the universe.”

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz