Select Halacha by date:

Or by subject:

Or by keyword:
Search titles and keywords only
Search All    

Weekly Perasha Insights
Shabbat Morning Derasha on the Parasha
Register To Receive The Daily Halacha By Email / Unsubscribe
Daily Parasha Insights via Live Teleconference
Syrian Sephardic Wedding Guide
Download Special Tefilot
A Glossary Of Terms Frequently Referred To In The Daily Halachot
About The Sources Frequently Quoted In The Halachot
About Rabbi Eli Mansour
Purchase Passover Haggadah with In Depth Insights by Rabbi Eli Mansour and Rabbi David Sutton
About DailyHalacha.Com
Contact us
Useful Links
Refund/Privacy Policy
Back to Home Page

Today’s Halacha is

Dedicated By
Isaac Moses

Click Here to Sponsor Daily Halacha
  Clip Length: 52:12 (mm:ss)
Download
print       

Praying For Teshuba

The Gemara in Masechet Berachot teaches, “Ha’kol Bi’ydeh Shamayim Hutz Mi’yirat Shamayim” – “Everything is in G-d’s Hands, except for fear of G-d.” This means that although G-d controls everything that happens in the world, there is one area which He chose not to control, and that is our free will. We, and only we, decide whether to act properly or improperly. G-d does not force us to choose good over evil or vice-versa. He leaves this completely in our control.

The Ben Ish Hai (Rav Yosef Haim of Baghdad, 1833-1909), in his Ben Ish Hayil, raises the question of how to reconcile this fundamental precept with other sources, which indicate that G-d can cause us to repent. In one context, the Gemara says that opposing the Yeser Ha’ra (evil inclination) and performing Teshuba would be impossible without G-d’s help. And, we recite each day in the Amida prayer, “Hashibenu Abinu Le’Toratecha,” praying that G-d should bring us back to religious observance. How can we recite such a prayer if G-d does not interfere with our free will, and only we decide whether to act correctly?

The Ben Ish Hai answered this question by distinguishing between two different stages of repentance: the initial thought, and the follow-up action. Teshuba begins with a stirring of the heart, with the recognition in one’s mind that he needs to improve. But this is only the beginning. After arriving at this realization, one must then do the hard work to change and to pray for forgiveness. The Ben Ish Hai explained that G-d “interferes” with our free will by putting the idea of Teshuba in our minds. The thoughts of Teshuba, and the feelings of disappointment with ourselves which we occasionally experience, come to us as a gift from the Almighty. But the rest is up to us. G-d puts the thoughts of Teshuba in our minds, but we must then invest the effort to make it happen. And thus when we pray “Hashibenu,” asking G-d to bring us back in repentance, we refer to the initial push and inspiration. We ask G-d to give us those initial feelings, the desire to repent, acknowledging that the rest of the process is solely up to us.

These two stages are reflected by the two stages of the Yamim Nora’im (High Holidays). In our Rosh Hashanah prayers, we do not mention anything about repentance and forgiveness. The Rosh Hashanah prayers focus on the theme of G-d’s kingship, and the fact that He judges the earth. Rosh Hashanah is the time when we develop the thoughts of Teshuba, by contemplating G-d’s rule over the universe. This is alluded to in the word “Rosh,” which means “head,” indicating that this is the time when we develop thoughts and feelings of repentance. The rest of this period, the Ten Days of Repentance and Yom Kippur, is when we take these thoughts and put them into practice, taking the time to pray for forgiveness and to think about how we can improve during the coming year.

The message for us is that Teshuba requires hard work, but also requires prayer. We must pray that G-d inspire us to improve so we can then work to make the changes that need to be made. This is true all year round, but especially during the period of Yamim Nora’im. As part of our efforts to repent, we must beg the Almighty to do His part, to stir our hearts and give us the inspiration we need to perform complete Teshuba and turn ourselves into better people.


Sefer/Parasha:
Parashat Vayeseh: Yaakob’s Dream
Parashat Toledot: Understanding the Story of Yishak’s Blessing
Parashat Hayeh-Sarah: The Dangers of Vanity
Parashat Vayera: Akedat Yishak & Akedat Abraham
Parashat Lech Lecha: The Influence of a Sadik
Parashat Noah: When the Going Gets Rough
Bereshit: G-d’s Signature
The Sukka and Torah Commitment
Yom Kippur: Throwing Away Our Arrogance
Parashat Nisavim: It Depends Only on Us
Parashat Ki Teseh: The Pinhole of Repentance
Elul: The Time is Now
Parashat Reeh: The Reward for Early Struggles
Parashat Ekeb: The Synagogue and the Bet Ha’mikdash
Parashat VaEtchanan: Nahamu Nahamu
Page of 44
653 Parashot found