emunah, tefillah, a little mussar, and a shmeck of geula

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Yesod of Teshuva

In EmunahSpeak: A Real Deal Teshuva we said that, Teshuva is not a once a year spiritual form of Pesach cleaning or something to be pulled out of the bull pen on the ruchniyas equivalent of rainy days, to level out the speed bumps that we invariably hit as we navigate our way through the minefield of life’s challenges.

Although, by all rights Teshuva should be part and parcel of our daily routine no less than negel vasser, the sad truth is that for most of us it has become seasonal, with opening day being Rosh Chodesh Elul.

But unless one digs down deep, foundation wise in Av, the how, what, and why of the mechanics of Teshuva that will dominate one’s thinking hours in Elul will be anchored in something less than solid bedrock.  For as we explained in EmunahSpeak: A Real Deal Teshuva-part two, if you build a roof in Elul in lieu of a foundation, instead of growth you’ll end up with a levitation act which will predictably succumb to the laws of spiritual gravity.

The hardest thing in this world is to change.  Everyone has a defense or justification for maintaining the status quo ante, and as Rabbi Chaim Malinowitz lets us hear, it should therefore come as no surprise that the biggest impediment to Teshuva is probably self-justification.

To do Teshuva you have to strip away all of the excuses.  So say goodbye to all of the ifs, buts, and maybes, as you take yourself down to your spiritual socks.

Rabbi Malinowitz tells us in the name of the Chovos Halevovos that to properly develop a yesod for your Teshuva you must look at yourself in the mirror and open your spiritual eyes wide enough to see that you need to change things.  And that takes Knia (humility), because the only way to see what needs to be seen in that mirror is to mevatal yourself to the extent that you break down your ego.  Then and only then can you discern the disconnect between what you should be and what you have become.

And accordingly, the Chovos Halevovos places Sha’ar HaKnia just before Sha’ar HaTeshuva because Knia is the stepping stone to Teshuva.  It’s so foundational that without this yesod of Knia, the most intense and sincere Teshuva will lack the capacity to affect the gut-rehab level of change that’s needed to present yourself anew to Hashem.