Rosh Hashanah

The Joy of Repentance

In his incredible commentary on Rav Kook’s Orot HaTeshuvah, “Song of Teshuvah,” Rav Moshe Weinberger brings to light Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook’s groundbreaking approach to the concept and process of repentance. Rav Weinberger cites over and over again Rav Kook’s message that repentance is not intended to be a burdensome process, rather a joyous, restorative process. As our Sages state, the creation of repentance preceded the creation of the world and represents our soul’s desire and yearning to return to that point, to a place in time where there is an understanding and appreciation for Truth, to a place and time before the veil of the physical world shrouded us and obscured us from that Truth. It’s a healing process and not a punitive process. Kaparah is classically translated as atonement, but it literally means to wipe away. We are literally cleaning our souls and we should approach the repentance process not with trepidation, but with enthusiasm. It is a hard and rigorous process, but it should be embarked upon with a sense of renewal and hope. 

Additionally, a person’s desire to make the world a better place and specifically any activism, advocacy and efforts in the advancement of the Jewish people is a form of repentance. The Jewish people are different from any other nation. We are made up of individuals, but our heart also beats as one. When any part of the nation is suffering, we all suffer. We see examples of this all the time. Therefore, when one takes the lead in improving the lot of the nation, in any way, they are actively engaged in bringing us back to our original pure state, which is the essence of repentance. Every person who leaves his or her home country, makes aliyah to Israel and contributes to the welfare of the Jewish people and its homeland is engaging in a form of repentance.

The beauty is that Hashem created lots of us, each with our own personalities, character, strengths and weaknesses. We see this clearly in the myriad ways that you – our clients – choose to serve the Jewish people and boost the Israeli economy. No matter how you look at yourself, as long as your focus is on doing good, you can take whichever approach fits you best. Or, more practically, blend of approaches. As long as we recognize our True purpose in this world, we can then go about the process of working on ourselves in whichever way speaks to each of us. 

5780 was really challenging. COVID hit us like a brick wall. We had hoped for better in 5781. And in some ways it was. Because we learned to cope with this ever changing pandemic. But we also suffered tremendously as a nation. The losses that we endured this year were obviously meant as messages to us. Without a prophet, there is no way to know what that message is, but it’s clear that we have lots of work to do. If everyone takes upon themselves to make 5782 a year of repentance, step by step, day by day, baby steps each day – a year of positivity, a year of growth, a year of unity – not just 10 days or one month, but an entire year, then hopefully we can stand together on the eve of 5783 with a real call for everyone to return to our home in the land of Israel. 

We wish you a shanah tovah umetukah, a year of blessings and success, a year of health, of endless nachas from our families and only joy, a year in which all our wishes come true. 

The Route 38 Team