Personal Growth & Self-Perfection
Tshuva (Repentence)





* the "three weeks" between the 17th of Tammuz and Tisha B'Av,
* Ellul (the month before Rosh HaShanah),
* the "Yomim Norayim" (the ten days Rosh HaShanah to Yom Kippur),
* anytime one wishes to do tshuva to correct actual deeds or,
* anytime one wishes to study tshuva to achieve self-elevation.]








RAMBAM'S HILCHOS TSHUVA Chapters 1 through 7 [Practical Laws Of Repentance; translated by Rabbi Forsythe into clear, contemporary English, while accurately retaining Rambam's precise meaning]



In the Torah portion "Tazria" we learn that a person may see blemishes on his skin. The midrash Mechilta says that this is caused as a consequence of any one of eleven sins, for example lashon hora (slanderous, damaging or maligning speech) or dover sheker bilvavo (having a false thought). The skin blemishing is not a punishment but is, rather, "cause and effect" the same way that one who takes a knife and cuts himself does not bleed as a punishment, he bleeds as a consequence. When one sees the blemishes on his skin, the Torah instructs him to go to the kohain who will examine it and pronounce whether it is the spiritual malady of "tsora'as" or whether it is "benign." If the blemish is tsora'as, the person has to go through an elaborate procedure including cutting his clothes, living in isolation for at least a week and bringing a sacrifice at the Holy Temple.

If a person with the specified skin blemishes wanted to be "clever," he could choose to refrain from going to the kohain. This would save him from all inconvenience and expense that results from the kohain declaring him to have tsora'as. The question comes up, then, why did the Torah leave this potential "loophole" in the laws of tsora'as?

Tsora'as is an external sign that something inside needs repair, needs tshuva. If a person is truly loyal to the service of G-d, he has to do tshuva for any blemish in his spirituality. When someone has to correct an action, a habit, a character trait, a personality fault or any aspect of his spiritual condition; he is commanded to do tshuva; and tshuva has to be a particularly high priority if the sin has a serious punishment or if the sin has any bad impact on any other person(s). One has the choice of thinking that he can hide from his spiritual imperfections and the work he is obligated to do to correct them. He can "put his head under the carpet," ignore his imperfections and think himself to be very fine and holy.

The person who does not go to the kohain will have the tsora'as and save himself from the imposing laws of the tsora'as. But, he will still have his spiritual blemishes, whether he goes through the prescribed procedure or not. What is missing is that he will never do tshuva and perfect his inner blemishes, of which tsora'as is only an external sign. The "loophole" is there to teach us the serious and high spiritual cost of not doing tshuva whenever necessary in the eyes of the Torah.

Nowadays, without the Holy Temple, we do not have tsora'as. This does not mean we are free from any obligations of tshuva. We do not have the option to overlook our faults or misdeeds and think any of them will go away just because we choose not to face them. Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetzki said that when a person in our days has suffering, it is a signal from Heaven that we have to do tshuva. If one ignores Heaven's messages, or ignores his sins even if he does not have suffering yet, he is like one who looks away from his tsora'as and tells himself that he is perfect and wonderful. The disease in his soul is still fully there. Without tshuva, he is without hope that the inner blemish will ever be repaired. For example, if one speaks in a way that shames or harms another (lashon hora), when the person with tsora'as has to live in isolation for a week, he learns that he tried to isolate the victim from others by his evil speech. The burdensome laws of tsora'as are like medicine to the soul.

One of the sins which caused tsora'as is having a false thought. If a person thinks that he does not have a fault or sin that he, in fact, truly has, he is precisely such a person for whom tsora'as is necessary.

We learn from all of this that each Jew must make a careful and honest introspection of his actions, traits, thoughts and patterns and do tshuva to correct and complete himself over the entire course of his life; that his soul return to Heaven after 120 years as clean and perfect as possible.

Some people look at others critically and think they are satisfying the obligation to do tshuva by imposing tshuva on others. Rabbi Yisroel Salanter said that taking care of the other person's goshmiyuss (materialism) is your ruchaniyuss (spirituality) and that the other person's ruchaniyuss is your goshmiyuss! Don't be so quick to run over to the next person and accuse, attack or criticize. It is better that you ask him if there is something you can do for him (or women: for her). Rabbi Elimelech of Lizensk said that one should always see the good attributes of another person and never his bad attributes. If you have a complaint towards another, check with daas Torah before vocalizing it. Even if it is valid, there are halachos of how and when you may and may not go about correcting another person. And, oftentimes, seeing fault in another is psycholgical projection of what is actually a fault in yourself (Kiddushin 70a). It is easier and more comfortable to see a fault in, or to attack, someone else, than to truly face one's inner self, deeds, midos and patterns.

In 1923, the Chafetz Chaim was asked to be the keynote speaker at the first Agudath Yisroel convention in Vienna. They asked him to speak on how he became "a Chafetz Chaim."

He said that when he was young, he saw the faults of the Jewish world and saw that he had to change it. So, he tried to change the Jewish world...and he couldn't. So, he tried to change the Jews of his country Poland...and he couldn't. So, he tried to change the Jews of his town Radin...and he couldn't. So, he tried to change the Jews of his shul...and he couldn't. So, he tried to change the Jews of his family...and he couldn't. So, in despair, he decided to change himself. And, when he changed himself, that's when he became the Chafetz Chaim...and changed the Jewish world.




The Torah says (Deuteronomy 4:39), "And you will know today and you will return it to your heart...". Rabbi Yisrael Salanter (mid 19th century) was one of the greatest Torah analysts of human nature. He says that this verse addresses two levels of human reality, 1. knowledge and 2. heart. In the Torah's need to be explicit about there being these two levels, we learn that the distance between knowing something intellectually and really absorbing it (into the heart, where it becomes genuinely assimilated into you) is as great a distance as the difference between knowing something and not knowing it at all.

Intellectualizing is not the goal. The material of this site (as well as all Torah) is for integration into your heart, your being and your behavior. Only when "returned to your heart" is it truly known. Only when steadily practiced is what one learned termed "wisdom;" as the Mishna says (Pirkei Avos, chapter three), "He whose deeds are more than his wisdom, his wisdom will endure." Lasting practice of what you learn is the mark of its assimilation into your system. When something you "learned" is intellectual, it is not part of you. When it spontaneously and consistently prompts "learned" response, it is learned. You are changed. You are only then truly wiser.

A story is told by a gadol (Torah authority) of a yeshiva man who was learning the Talmud. He was studying the law that prohibits one from leaving something in a place where it can cause others to fall, thereby causing damage. He was sitting and had pulled his "shtender" (learning stand) onto his chest. His learning position was on the aisle. He was sitting with his legs out in the aisle. Just as he was learning the law that one may not cause another to trip and come to damage, his feet, in the aisle, tripped someone walking by and caused the other to get hurt. This yeshiva man was learning not to trip and damage the next person. He was learning intellectually. In "real life," what did it mean? What did it accomplish? To put it another way, a Jew does not learn for information, a Jew learns for ELEVATION. Or, to paraphrase myself, Torah learning is not for information, Torah learning is for APPLICATION.

Later in the third chapter, Pirkei Avos tells us that a person whose deeds are more than his wisdom is like "A person whose branches are few but his roots are many. Even if all the winds of the world come and blow on it, it doesn't move from its place...He will never cease to bear fruit." Such a person will stand up to adversity and trouble. He is solid, stable, strong, reliable and firm.

Further, when the Torah uses the term, "return," (in Deuteronomy 4:39), instead of "place" or "put" the thing into your heart), we learn that the Jewish soul is born knowing Torah and when any Jew places any thing of Torah into his heart, it was there before. The gemora (Nida 30b) tells us that one is taught all of Torah when he was in his mother's womb. He may have forgotten it when he left the womb and got bombarded by the lures and distractions of the world. But Torah was there. It just has to be "returned." It's natural home is the Jewish heart. It's like finding a lost article and putting it back where it belongs. It's keeping "the fish in water."

Another Biblical verse employs the word "return" in an interesting context. King David wrote (Psalms 19:8), "The Torah of G-d is perfect, it returns the soul; the law of G-d is trustworthy, it makes wise the unknowing." The Torah itself is the mechanism for achieving return of the Jewish soul to Torah. The Torah is wisdom and knowledge.

Rashi describes "The Torah of G-d is perfect" as referring to the sun, by linking this verse and other Biblical verses (from Psalms, Malachi and Proverbs) together. He writes that Torah enables one to "see" (like the sun enables one to physically see), and that everything wrong that one does is judged (likening the sun to judgement because the sun can burn). But, when does the Torah of G-d return the soul? When it is PERFECT. When Torah is pure, it returns your soul to the ROAD OF LIFE, and shields those who learn Torah from being burned, as Malachi the Prophet (3:20) says (in the name of G-d), "To you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings."

Chapter six of Pirkei Avos is called, "kinyan (acquisition of) Torah." It says that Torah brings one closer to causes the benefit of intellect, wisdom, understanding and self-control...your [the Torah-person's] table is greater than the table of kings and your crown is greater than the crown of kings and your employer [G-d] is faithful to pay reward for your work...great is Torah for it gives life in this world and in eternity to those who do it.

The Torah is a whole; it is not for picking and choosing. Every part relates to every other part. No part can be isolated from the whole nor from other parts. The Talmud constantly cross-references one subject to another. Remember at the beginning, for example, I compared sanctification of marriage to the laws of "hekdesh," which comes from the laws of bringing sacrifices at the Holy Temple. We wouldn't fully know or understand the nature of marriage without the principle of "hekdesh (sanctifying property by ritually designating it for the Holy Temple)." One more example, described earlier, is constructive and diligent development in practical kindness and charity in your community - which has the beneficial "side effects" of 1. taking couple's minds and energies from silly, trivial quarrels, 2. giving more stability and commonality to a basically stable marriage, and 3. developing more and more ability to give to each other and to treat each other with kindness and sensitivity, by practicing goodness with many needy people and admirable projects, day in and day out.

This applies across every subject of life. Every aspect of G-d-given Torah enhances every other aspect. Therefore, the building, sweetening, strengthening of marriage is directly tied to a full and absolute integration of "approach to marriage" into approach to full Torah observance; from Sabbath and holiday observance to honesty in business, to keeping kosher, to prayer, to mikva, to personal inner growth, to learning Torah regularly, to letting go of grudges, etc. - to more and more observance of Torah, a little at a time, every day, as long as one lives.

A well known story is told of Rabbi Yisrael Salanter in which he tells how he came upon one of his fundamental principles of mussar (Torah self-elevation). He took his shoes to a shoemaker for repair. The sun was going down and the shoemaker only had a little bit of candle left. Rabbi Yisrael offered to come back the next day. The sky was getting dark and if the little bit of candle would finish, there would be no light. The shoemaker wasn't finished with the repair of the previous customer's shoes. The shoemaker assured the rabbi that he needn't bother to come back tomorrow. "Don't worry. As long as the candle burns, I can repair." These words hit Rabbi Salanter hard. He realized that these words were a secret to human growth. As long as the candle long as one is still alive - I can repair...myself as a human being. Even someone older, more set in one's ways, one can always work on oneself, as long as one still has the gift of life. One should grow at all times.

The Torah of G-d returns the soul. The law of G-d is trustworthy to make wise the unknowing. If: your Torah is the TORAH OF G-D. If: your Torah is PERFECT.

In relation to all of this, a passage from the Prophets (Ezekiel 18) sends chills up my spine when I think of today's societal degeneration in general and relationship woes in particular. Let me paraphrase the 31 verses in this chapter.

Yechezkel says that if a person is just, sinless and generous, he will live with G-d's blessing. This requires staying away from a forbidden woman or one's menstruous wife. The person pays his workers and his debts, commits no theft, feeds the hungry, clothes the poor, lends money to the needy without charging any interest, is truthful and charitable, and is faithful to G-d. This person will live. Does G-d have pleasure that the wicked should die? Let all return to G-d, obey G-d's laws, do that which is right and good, and live. Yet you say "The way of G-d is unfair!" Listen, House of Israel! Is My way unfair? YOUR WAYS ARE UNFAIR! The soul that turns from evil and does what is just and good, because he thinks into his life and he returns, he will certainly live. Make a new heart and spirit. Return and live.

Again, "return." This time "return" is directly linked with "life." And again, "good life" 1. comes with successful marriage, 2. comes with a "new heart," and 3. comes through Torah, devotion to G-d's laws and doing what is good in His eyes.

Wherever you are today, you can "return" to a higher place. Return to where you want to "go."

King David wrote (Psalms 16:8), "I put G-d before me always, I will never stumble because He is at my right hand." Rashi explains this to mean, "In all my actions, I have placed the presence of G-d in front of my eyes. Why? Because He is always at my side of strength to help me, that I never slip. And, I always keep the Torah with me all the days of my life, that I should always be occupied with it and never slip." It is clear from this verse and Rashi, that not to err, and to merit Heavenly help, one must keep aware of G-d and keep involved in Torah AT ALL TIMES.

"The end of the matter is, when all of life is considered, fear G-d and keep His commandments, because that is the entirety of being a human being. Because G-d will bring every deed to judgement, even every secret act, whether good or bad (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)."

To bring again from that gem of a Talmudic tractate, Pirkei Avos (chapter one), "Study isn't the main thing, action is." Now it's time for the main thing. Action. G-d be with you. And, may you be with G-d happily and with blessing from now on.




We are shocked, saddened and worried about a lot of the news lately [April '02]. A kollel man was knifed in his back and killed in Flatbush. A Chasidish businessman's foot was blown off by car bomb in Borough Park. A nine year old yeshiva student was killed by a school bus in Williamsburg. Then there is the savage and ongoing terrorism in Eretz Yisroel and the bombing of shuls in France and Belgium.

Many people are pulling out their Tehillim, which is great to do, but Tehillim alone is not enough. When G-d decreed the destruction of the evil city Nineveh, he sent the prophet Yonah to give a final warning. Hashem canceled decree of destruction of Nineveh after He saw that the people changed their DEEDS and repented from their evil way [Yonah 3:10]. On the Yomim Norayim, the Machzor says that, "Tshuva [repentance], tefilla [prayer and Tehillim] and tzadaka [charity, good deeds] cause bad decrees to disappear. All three are necessary. King Solomon tells us that Tzadaka [generously giving charity] will save from a Heavenly decree of death [Proverbs 10:2], however the mitzva of charity is only achieved with kosher money - earned honestly and fairly (if not, giving compounds the sin of theft by giving away someone else's property).

In the Torah's two tochochos [rebukes] and the second paragraph of "Shema," Hashem clearly tells us that there is a cause and effect relationship between what Jews do and G-d's treatment (kaviyochol) of us. The gemora says to "take mussar [correction, self-improvement]" when punishment comes into the world [Yevamos 63a]. Hashem is sending us messages. The messages are primarily for observant Jews who are being beckoned to do better than they are doing, to live up to the standards and laws that G-d has set for us. What messages can we extract from the recent tribulations and how can we contribute constructively to earning better decrees from Heaven? Let me review some central Torah principles. Perhaps in our current context, we may each find ways to improve ourselves and better fulfill the will of G-d.

The world's foundation is Torah [learning and applying the truth and will of G-d throughout life], avoda [service of G-d throughout life] and gemillus chasodim [active lovingkindness] (Pirkei Avos chapter one). The world's enduring depends on emmess [truth], din [justice] and shalom [peace] (Pirkei Avos chapter one). Are we doing all we can to learn all the Torah that pertains to us, all that we are able. For example, the Chofetz Chaim said that if one does not learn the laws of shabbos regularly, he or she could come to violate shabbos every week. One must direct his heart to Hashem at all times and in all that he does [Brachos 5b]. Do we keep Hashem in our thoughts at all times - in business, in marriage, with neighbors, in shul, etc.; so that everything we do everywhere is Divine service? Do we actively seek to bestow kindness to those who need, whether with money, food, helping a weak learner in his Torah learning, helping singles find a mate, giving time to kiruv [Torah outreach], cheering up someone who is sad, etc.? Kindness is determined by the need or situation of the recipient - not what makes the potential giver feel good. "'Love your fellow Jew as yourself' is the greatest principle in the Torah [Yerushalmi Nedarim chapter nine]." "Kindness builds the world [Tehillim 89:3]." Are we always truthful and honest - in business, personal and social relationships? Do we always pursue what is just, right and fair - objectively and unselfishly? Violence comes to world for the delay or perversion of justice and those who teach Torah not in accordance with halacha [Pirkei Avos chapter five]. Do we strive, and even sacrifice, for peace? Do we engage in controversy, do we fail to "seek peace and pursue it [Tehillim 34:15]?"

The midrash [Vayikra Raba] says, "Derech eretz kadma leTorah [civil, polite, thoughtful behavior] came before the Torah." The world was able to exist for 26 generations without Torah, even though Torah is what G-d created the world for, but it was not able to exist for one moment without derech eretz. Do we give people courtesy, do we act with consideration and good manners - to Jew and non-Jew alike, at all times?

King David says, "Who is the person who wants life, loves longevity and to see pleasantness? Guard your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking falsity [Tehillim 34:13-14]." Do we do all we can to not talk lashon hora (malicious, slanderous or harmful speech), rechillus (trouble-causing speech), deception and falsity? The Tosfos Yom Tov [one of the main commentators on the Mishnah] lived during the Chelmielsky massacres of 1648-9 in which 2/3 million Jews were killed in Poland and the Ukraine. The Tosfos Yom Tov said that talking in shul is like a burning fire - and is the reason for the massacres. King Solomon tells us that "Death and life are in the power of the tongue" [Proverbs 18:21] and "There is no gain for the talkative person" [Ecclesiastes 10:11]. The mouth is very powerful and can be used for good (Torah, praying, encouraging, comforting, advising, friendship, etc.) or for evil (self-serving lies or half truths, instigating, talk in shul, apostasy, insulting, etc.). The Manchester Rosh Yeshiva, z'l, Rabbi Yehuda Ze'ev Segal, said that if someone is having trouble, he is guaranteed G-d's help if he will learn at least two halachos a day from the Chofetz Chaim on lashon hora and will, as a practical matter, stop himself from speaking lashon hora. Are we doing all that we can to use our mouths only for constructive, peaceful and good purposes?

"Adam muad le'olam [a person is always accountable for damage that he or she has done or caused;" Bava Kama 26a]. If one guards against damages, this brings salvation [Shabos 31a]. Are we doing all we can to responsibly and effectively safeguard against causing all damage, tangible or intangible, to others e.g. personal injury (e.g. leaving paper or objects on a floor or sidewalk on which people could slip or get poked and come to harm), hurting feelings, breaking or losing another's property, paying debts in full on time, not making noise (e.g. disturbing sleep, honking car horns without an emergency or amplifying music at a harmful volume), not parking in someone else's driveway, not wasting anyone's time, driving carefully, etc.? The Vilna Gaon said that the essential reason for the giving of life is for people to work at all times on conquering their midos (traits), and one who is not always working on midos is wasting his life. Similarly, Reb Elimelech of Lizensk said that a person is only born to improve his nature. A person is only created to keep improving. The Chafetz Chaim said that the yaitzer hora [evil inclination] is like a warrior, bent on conquering people and stealing all of our "shields and weapons," which are the Torah. The gemora says that G-d "created the yaitzer hora and created the Torah as its antidote [Kidushin 30b]. Without Torah, it is impossible to beat the yaitzer hora. If we weaken in Torah, we cannot stand a chance to win the lifelong war against the yaitzer hora.

The Torah calls Rosh Hashana "Yom Truah [a day of shofar blowing; Leviticus 23:24]." The Klee Yokor commentary on the Torah says that the essence of the day is tshuva [repentance] but the Torah does not want to call Rosh Hashana a "Day of Repentance" because some people will mistakenly think that repentance is reserved for one day a year. This is not true. One must live as a mentsh, obey the Torah and repent every day, at all times. Therefore, the Torah says "Yom Truah." The person who is dedicated to Torah will succeed and the one who isn't will be lost [Tehillim 1:3 & 1:6]. "Return us, G-d, to You and we will be repentant, renew our days like they were before" [Lamentations 5:21].

If we are steadfast to learn, live and obey the Torah, if we all keep seriously spiritually growing, if we refrain from omitting or violating Torah duties and keep constantly doing what is right and good in Hashem's eyes, we can hope for salvation from both personal and national troubles and look forward to blessing and success.




In the three weeks leading to Tisha B'Av we focus on the destruction of the Bais HaMikdosh and tragedies of golus. These resulted from causeless hate, loshon hora, serious interpersonal shortcomings. It is a superb time for reflection and correcting our sins in general and our interpersonal sins in particular.

The Steipler was asked why tzoros (troubles, tragedies, suffering) were increasing at such a huge and alarming rate among klall Yisroel in the generations after World War Two. More and more people are: struck by serious illnesses and injuries, unable to find mates, in marital trouble, losing little children, dying young and leaving large families, mentally ill, etc. The Steipler replied that before World War Two, Hashem sent kapara (atonement) from outside (pogroms, persecutions, genocide). Now with more liberty, Democracy, freedom; there are fewer despots that can just ride in and torture, scatter or annihilate large populations of Jews. Since kapara can no longer come from without, the kapara has to come from within. These frightening words give insight why our generation is so replete with more tzoros than anyone remembers. What is more terrifying: people avoid going to the root of the problem which requires DISCONTINUING DOING THINGS FOR WHICH G-D MUST KEEP SENDING KAPARA.

In the weekday Shmoneh Esray (after the three initial brachos), we pray "Chonain Daas (bestow intelligence)," then "Hashivainu (help us return from sin back to Torah) and then "Slach Lanu (pardon and forgive us)." This is significant. The first thing we must ask for is intellect. Then, THE FIRST THING WE MUST USE OUR INTELLECT FOR IS TO DO TSHUVA AND ABANDON SIN WHICH BROUGHT US GUILT AND PUNISHMENT. Only after tshuva shlaima (complete return to Torah) we can talk to G-d about pardon.

A sin's degree of seriousness is determined by the Torah's punishment for it. The most serious sins are those punished by: korais [extermination of one's soul and lineage], death, gehenom extended beyond a year, and ANY INTERPERSONAL SIN FOR WHICH KAPARA AND THE VICTIM'S FORGIVENESS HAVE NOT BEEN OBTAINED.

In my marriage counseling work, I hear people say that they will say Tehillim [Psalms] for marital peace when THEY STUBBORNLY DO NOT MAKE THE CHANGES THAT WILL BRING SHALOM BAYIS. Throughout the community, victims of tragedy or hardship, and concerned people, run to Tehillim (which is meritorious) BUT DO NOT RUN TO DO CHESHBON HANEFESH (SPIRITUAL ACCOUNTING) AND TSHUVA SHLAIMA (COMPLETE PERMANENT RETURN FROM SINFUL DEEDS OR PATTERNS) - ESPECIALLY THE SEVERE ONES WHICH CARRY SERIOUS AND DANGEROUS PUNISHMENTS! THEY DON'T HONESTLY CONSULT A ROV. TEHILLIM WITHOUT TSHUVA DOES NOT TAKE AWAY THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM. This type of thing is nothing new. The gemora calls it immersing in a mikva with a bug in your hand. You cannot obtain purification while you continue to hold a source of impurity.

Doubly tragic is that HASHEM DOES NOT WANT THE DEATH OF THE SINNER. HE WANTS HIM TO DO TSHUVA AND BE A TZADIK [one completely righteous] TO WHOM G-D WOULD GIVE LIFE, KINDNESS AND ABUNDANT PARDON AND BLESSING. G-d wants every sinner to return from sins, serve G-d with loyalty and a good attitude, and merit happy life. It sounds simple, but the yaitzer hora [evil inclination] does his job of confusing and tempting so very well. Human responsibility to use free choice to overcome the yaitzer hora must be executed even better!

We read extensively about abuses and injury by closest family members on those who are stuck, vulnerable, dependent and defenseless. Individuals pain, embarrass, slander, torment, belittle and deprive their children and spouses. Throughout our society, individuals wrong others - in business, with neighbors or relatives: hurting feelings, parking in front of a driveway or double parking even though this traps the other, anger, lying, putting on tzitzis so that it slaps the eye of the guy in the next chair, wasting another person's irreplaceable time (which is considered a form of theft WHICH CAN NEVER BE PAID BACK), disturbing another's concentration by talking in shul, gluing posters up on shul walls and others' property without permission (essentially vandalizing)...the list is almost endless. These sins against people are in addition to all of the sins between man and G-d which cause disastrous punishments [korais or death].

The gemora tells of a sinless rabbi (Pinchos Ben Yair) who was not hurt by a snake bite. He said that the snake's poison does not kill, sin kills. The Torah calls Rosh HaShanah "The day of shofar blowing." Tshuva is more essential to Rosh HaShana than shofar (which is a REMINDER TO DO TSHUVA). Why does the Torah not refer to Rosh HaShana as "The day of tshuva?" The Klee Yakar [commentary to the Torah] writes the reason the Torah does not call Rosh HaShana the day of tshuva is so that you would not mistakenly think tshuva is required only one day a year. Tshuva, and behaving like a mentsh, is required EVERY DAY at all times. Igerress HaRamban tells us to analyze our deeds every morning and night and do tshuva for everything wrong we did for the previous half day. Tshuva has required steps:

1. sincere remorse for the wrong,

2. privately admitting it to G-d,

3. abandoning the wrong and accepting upon oneself for the future to do instead what is right, and, if involving wrong to any other person or people,

4. gently talking it out and making it up to each person as needed to appease and to obtain voluntary forgiveness, lasting friendship and complete peace.

The Torah commands (Leviticus 19:2), "Be Holy." Rashi says this is achieved by separating from sins. Being holy is not optional, not "extra credit;" it is a fundamental requirement of every Jew. On Yom Kippur, we read from the prophet Jonah. G-d commands him to go to the city Ninveh to tell the people to either do tshuva from their sins or be annihilated. G-d repealed the decree of punishment and pardoned the city when He saw that they did tshuva and FIXED THEIR DEEDS. It is only the concrete separation from sinful deeds that fulfills our obligation to be holy and only return from sinful deeds IN ACTION that brings G-d's pardon. As Pirkei Avos tells us, "Study is not the main things, only action is."

When we put the Torah into the ark, we say [Eicha 4:21], "Return us, G-d, to you and we will do tshuva, renew our days as they were before." Why would we cite a verse about tshuva while returning the Torah? If we don't do tshuva, we "put the Torah away" and abandon it. Only if we do COMPLETE TSHUVA every time we have to, make up everything we have to with everyone we wronged, and return fully AT LEAST TWICE EVERY DAY, we can truly attach to Torah and Hashem so as to "renew our days as they were before"..."renew our days" - because we do return/tshuva on all days, so days are "as they were before" - before the sins. This way, we'll merit the blessings, life, kindness and pardon that Hashem wants to give us all!




Chapters 1 through 7, practical elements of Tshuva)

Being one positive commandment, and it is that the person who sins must return from his sin before G-d, and he must confess [the sin]. And the explanation of this commandment and its essential principles, which follow with it, on account of it, are in these chapters.


1. If a person transgressed any one of the commandments of the Torah, whether an positive [active, to do] commandment or a negative [prohibitive, do not do] commandment; whether with willful intent or whether in error [e.g. did not know the law or did not know that the law applied in this case or at this time], he will repent from his sin and he is obligated to confess before G-d, blessed be He, as [the Torah] says (Numbers 5:6-7), "When a man or woman commits any sin which a person will do, to go astray and trespass against the L-rd, and that person will have guilt; and they will confess their sin which they have done." "And they will confess their sin which they have done" means confessing with words. This confessing is a positive commandment. How does one confess? The person says, "Please Hashem, I have sinned, I have been iniquitous, I have rebelled before you and I did such and such. I am remorseful and embarrassed with my deed and I will never return to this thing. This is the essence of confessing. The more that one adds to confessing and extends this activity [e.g. saying for each and every sin or possible sin, adding more details, repeating the confession in case it was not purehearted enough previously] the more praiseworthy the person is. Those who were obligated to bring chatos sin offerings and asham sin offerings [at the Holy Temple, received atonement for the sin] at the time when they brought their sacrificial offerings, for their sins by error or by intent; but they were not atoned through their sacrifices until they did repentance and admitted with confession with words, as [the Torah] says (Leviticus 5:5), "He shall confess the thing in which he sinned." This is the same for all whose sin obligates them to be killed by bais din [Torah court - if there is no operative Torah court, the death sentence is executed by Heaven through worldly circumstance] and all whose sin obligates them to receive lashes. They receive no atonement through their death or whipping until they repent and confess. The is the same for all who injure another person or damage another's property. Even though he paid [the victim] all which he owes him, he is not atoned until he confesses and returns from ever doing like this forever; as [the Torah] says (Numbers 5:6), "Any sin which a person will do."

2. Since the goat which was sent [out to be lost in the desert, in the days of the Holy Temple] is an atonement for all of Israel, the head kohain confesses upon it in language which refers to all the Jewish people, as [the Torah] says (Leviticus 16:21), "[He shall place his two hands upon the head of the live goat] and he will confess on it all the sins of the children of Israel." The goat which was sent atoned for all of the sins in the Torah. [This included] the [sins which are relatively] light and the serious [sins]; whether transgressed with intention, whether transgressed in error; whether [the transgression] was known [to the person who did it], whether it was not known. All was atoned by the goat which was sent, on condition that the person repented. However, if he did not repent, the goat only atoned for him on the light sins. What are the light sins and what are the serious sins? The serious sins are those which make the sinner guilty of death by bais din [execution] or korais [being cut off - dying before one's time and losing life after this world]. Oaths said in vain or in falsehood, even though they are not punishable by korais, these are in the category of "serious." All the remaining commandments, whether negative prohibitions or active positive obligations, which are not punished by korais [being "cut off"], are light.

3. In our times when the Holy Temple is not standing, and we don't have the alter of atonement, we only have repentance [returning from the sin]. Repentance atones for all sins. Even if one is evil all his life and does sincere repentance at the very end, [Heaven] does not remember of him anything from his evil, as [scripture] says (Ezekiel 33:12), "The evil deeds of the evil person will not make him fall on the day that he returns [to G-d] from his evil." Yom Kippur [the Day of Atonement] itself will atone for the one who repents, as [the Torah] says (Leviticus 16:30), "Because on that day He will atone you."

4. Even though repentance atones for every sin and the day of Yom Kippur itself atones, there are sins which are atoned right away and others which are only atoned after an amount of time. How is this explained? A man did a sin [refraining from doing a required] positive commandment which is not punished by korais, and then he repented. He is forgiven immediately.These are spoken of [in scripture] as it is said (Jeremiah 3:22), "Return, you slipping children, and I will heal your backsliding." If he sinned with a negative commandment which is not punished by korais or by execution by bais din, and he repented [as soon after the sin and as sincerely as possible], the repentance is held abeyance and Yom Kippur consummates the atonement atones. Of these [the Torah] says (Leviticus 16:30), "Because on that day He will atone you." If a person sinned on any [sin punished by] korais or execution by bais din, and he repented, [the effect of] repentance and Yom Kippur are held in abeyance and severe suffering come upon the person which complete the atonement for him. There is never atonement on these for him until these sufferings come upon him. [Scripture] says (psalm 89:33), "I will assign to their sins punishments with a harsh stick and I will afflict them for their iniquity." In what case is all of the foregoing said? In cases of sins which did not profane the name of G-d through doing those sins. However, anyone who profanes the name of G-d; even if he repented and Yom Kippur came and he remained steadfast in his repentance and suffering came upon him, he does not have complete repentance until he will die. In this case, repentance, Yom Kippur and sufferings are all held in abeyance and his death atones, as [scripture] says (Isaiah 22:14), "And it was revealed in My ears by the L-rd of Hosts that this sin will not be atoned until you die."


1. What is complete repentance? He once did a sin. The possibility to do that sin comes to him again. He is fully capable of doing the sin. He separates from it and did not do it exclusively because of his repentance, not because he fears something or his power is weak. For example, a man sinfully had sexual intercourse with a woman. After some time passed, he had subsequent occasion to be alone with her, and he still was in love with her, and his body had its full power, and was in the same location in which he previously sinned with her. With all this, he separated himself and refrained from the sin. This is a person who did complete repentance. Of him, Solomon said (Ecclesiastes 12:1), "And remember your Creator in the days of your youth, in order that the bad days do not come." If a person only repented when he is elderly, at an age when it is no longer possible to do the sin which he did, even though this is not the highest form of repentance, it still is effective for him and he is counted as having achieved repentance. Even if he sinned every day of his life and he repented on the day of his death, and he died having achieved repentance, all of his sins are forgiven. Of this [scripture] says (Ecclesiastes 12:2), "Before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars get dark, and the clouds return after the rain." This refers to the day of death. In general, if one remembered his Creator and he repented before his death, he is forgiven [the repentance must be full and sincere, and the sooner one repents, the more time he has alive to accumulate merits for eternal life; one may be forgiven while he has a very shallow life in the world to come; life is for the accumulation of merits from Torah and mitzvos].

2. What is repentance? It is the abandoning of sin which the sinner did, and he turns his thought away [from the sin] and he makes complete decision in his heart that he will never again do the sin, as [scripture] says (Isaiah 55:7), "Let the wicked one abandon his way and the man of iniquity his thought and return to the L-rd and He will have mercy on him for He is abundantly forgiving." [The sinner] must have remorse that he sinned, as [scripture] says (Jeremiah 31:18), "For after my repentance I had remorse, and after I was told I hit my thigh; I was ashamed and embarrassed for I carried the disgrace of my immaturity." The One Who knows all secrets will testify that such a person will never go back to this sin forever, as [scripture] says, (Hoshea 14:4), "And we will never again say that the idols made by our hands are our gods, for in You the orphan finds compassion." It is mandatory that [the penitent] confess verbally, saying the subject matters which he decided in his heart.

3. Anyone who confesses with words but has not reconciled in his heart to abandon, this is comparable to a person who immerses [in a mikva, to obtain spiritual purification] while holding a creeping [reptile or insect, a source of spiritual defilement] in his hand; and his immersion achieves nothing until he throws away the creeping creature; as [scripture] says (Proverbs 28:13), "The one who confesses and abandons [sins] will find mercy." And, it is mandatory to enumerate each sin in full detail, as [scripture] says (Exodus 32:31), "I pray L-rd that you hear, this nation has sinned a great sin and it made for themselves gods of gold."

4. Among the ways of repenting are: to constantly cry out before Hashem, with crying and beseeching and giving charity to the fullest extent of his abilities and to distance himself excessively from the thing in which he sinned, and changing his name as if to say I am another [person] and not the person who did those deeds, and change all of his deeds for the good and in an upright manner; and let him exile himself from his place, because exile atones for sin since it causes one to be disciplined, humbled and to have an undemanding spirit.

5. It is greatly praiseworthy for the penitent to confess in public and to make known to them his sins and to reveal to others his sins, of the kind which are against a fellow Jew, which he committed. He should say, "In truth, I sinned against so-and-so and I did such-and-such to him. Today I repent of it and I regret it. All who are arrogant and do not make sins known, and, rather conceal them, the repentance is not complete; as [scripture] says (Proverbs 28:13), "He who covers sins will not succeed." In what context is this said? For sins which are between a person and another person. However, for sins between a person and G-d one does not publicize himself and he is a brazen boor if he revealed them. [For sins against G-d] he repents to G-d, may He be blessed, and he specifies his sins in detail before Him and confesses them in general in public; and it is good that his sins [against G-d] not be revealed, as [scripture] says (Psalm 32:1), "Happy is the one whose rebellion [receives G-d's] forbearance and whose sin is covered."

6. Although repentance and crying out [before G-d] is always lovely, the ten days between Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur are even better, in the extreme, and are accepted [by G-d] immediately, as [scripture] says (Isaiah 55:6), "Seek the L-rd when He is found." In what context is this said? In the case of the individual. But, in the case of the community, any time that they repent and cry out with a complete heart, they are answered; as [the Torah] says (Deuteronomy 4:7), "For which nation is so great to have G-d close to it like the L-rd G-d whenever we call to Him?"

7. Yom Kippur is the time of repentance for every individual and to the public and it is the set time for forgiving and pardoning Israel. Therefore, everyone is obligated to repent and to confess on Yom Kippur. The commandment of confessing on Yom Kippur obligates that each begin [confessing] before the actual day [of Yom Kippur] before he eats [his meal before the fast] in case he suffocates [while swallowing food] during the meal before [the Yom Kippur prayer service] confession. Even though each person confesses before he eats, he goes back and confesses during the night of Yom Kippur during arvis [ma'ariv, evening services], and he goes back and confesses during shachris [morning services], and during Mussaf services [dedicated to the holiness of the day] and during mincha [afternoon services] and during Ne'ila [closing services]. When is confession? For the individual, after the [Shmoneh Esray, Amida, standing and silent] prayer. The leader of the service [confesses] within his [standing and silent] prayer in the fourth blessing.

8. The confession text that is universally accepted as the standard custom throughout the Jewish people is "Aval anachnu chatanu...[However we have sinned...]." This is the essential part of confession. Sins which one confessed on one Yom Kippur must be confessed again each subsequent Yom Kippur as [scripture] says (Psalm 51:5), "For I know my rebellion and my sin is continually before me."

9. The combination of repentance and Yom Kippur atone only for transgressions between a person and G-d. For example, a person who ate something unkosher or who had a prohibited sexual intercourse and anything like this [any sin against G-d]. However, any sin between a person and another person, such as injuring a person or cursing a person or stealing from another and anything like this [any sin against another person] will never be forgiven for [the perpetrator] until he gives to the victim that which [the perpetrator] is obligated [to give] and [until the perpetrator] has appeased [the victim]. Even though [the perpetrator] returned the money which he is obligated [to give] to [the victim], he must appease [the victim] and ask of him that [the victim] forgive him. Even if [the perpetrator] only annoyed [the victim] only with words, he must appease him and implore him until [the victim] forgives him. If [the victim] does not want to forgive him, [the perpetrator] brings a group of three people from among his fellow Jews who implore and request [that the victim forgive the perpetrator]. If [the victim] does not want to be appeased by them, [the perpetrator] brings a second and third [group]. If [the victim] still does not want [to forgive], they leave him and go and he who did not forgive is now the sinner. However, if [the victim] was his rabbi, he must go back even a thousand times until he will forgive [the perpetrator].

10. It is forbidden for [the victim] to be cruel and not be appeased. Rather, he must be quick to be appeased and very slow to anger. At the moment when the one who sinned against him requests forgiveness from him, [the victim] should forgive with a complete heart and a willing attitude. Even if [the perpetrator] pained him and sinned against him many times, the [victim] may not act with any vengeance or grudgebearing, and this is the way of the descendants of Israel. Their hearts are righteous. However, the idolaters are hard-hearted and not so. "And he kept his anger forever" (Amos 1:11). And [scripture] says likewise of the Givonim, who never forgave and were never appeased (2 Samuel 21:2), "And the Givonim were not from the children of Israel."

11. If a person sinned against another and [the victim] died before [the perpetrator] requested forgiveness, he brings ten fellow Jews and stands them over his grave and says before them, "I sinned against the L-rd, G-d of israel and to this person so-and-so and I did such and such to him." If he owed [the victim] money, he returns it to his Torah-sanctioned inheritors. If he did not know who his inheritors are, he will confess in bais din and pay the money as the judges instruct.


1. Each and every Jew has merits and sins. One whose merits are more than his sins is righteous. One whose sins are more than his merits is evil. If they are exactly equal, he is a mediocrity. Similarly, with a nation. If the merits of all who live in it are greater than their sins, the nation is righteous. If the sins of all who live in it are greater than their merits, the nation is evil. And, similarly for the entire world.

2. A Jew whose sins are more than his merits dies immediately in his evil, as [scripture] says (Hoshea 9:7), "Because of your numerous sins." And similarly a nation whose sins are more is immediately lost as [the Torah] says, (Genesis 18:20), "The cry of Sodom and Amora is great and their sin is very much serious." And similarly the entire world. If its sins are greater than its merits, it is immediately destroyed as [the Torah] says (Genesis 6:5), "And the L-rd saw that the evil of man on the earth was great." This evaluation is not according to the number of the merits or sins. Rather it is according how big they each are. There can be a merit which counts as much as many sins as [scripture] says (1 Kings 14:13), "Since there is found in him a good thing." And there can be a sin which counts as much as many merits, as [scripture] says (Ecclesiastes 9:18), "And one sinner destroys much good." Only the knowledge of the G-d of all knowledge can know how to make these evaluations, and measure the merits against the sins.

3. Anyone who regrets having done any of the commandments which he did and reflects on the merits, and says to himself, "What gain do I have from doing them? If only I would not have done them." He has lost all of the merits and [Heaven] does not remember any merit that he ever had. [This is as scripture] says (Ezekiel 33:12), "The righteousness of the righteous will not save him in the day of his rebellion." This exclusively applies to the one who contemplates his former merits, regretting them. When a person dies, [Heaven] weighs all of a person's merit and sins. In the same way, [Heaven] weighs the sins with the merits of each and every person who ever comes into the world, each and every year, on the holy day of Rosh HaShana. The one who is found to be righteous is sealed for life. The one who is found to be evil is sealed for death. The mediocrities are held in abeyance until Yom Kippur. If the person repents, he is sealed for life. If not, he is sealed for death.

4. Even though the blowing of the shofar on Rosh HaShana is a statute of the Torah, there is a deeper meaning hinted by it. That is to say, "Wake up, wake up, you sleepers, from your sleep, you who are unconscious, be aroused, and inspect your deeds, return in repentance and remember your Creator. These who forget the truth in the emptiness of the times, blunder all their years in the vanity and emptiness which offers no gain and which cannot save, look into your souls and look into your ways and your strayings, and each one of you abandon his evil way and his thought which is not good." Therefore, each person must see himself throughout the entire year as if he is half meritorious and half guilty. And, similarly the entire world is half meritorious and half guilty. If a person did one sin, he tips the scale for himself and all the world to the side of guilt and he causes destruction. If he does one mitzva, he tips the scale for himself and all the world to the side of merit, and he causes himself and the rest of the world to be saved and rescued; as [scripture] says (Proverbs 10:25), "The righteous one is the foundation of the world." This [means] that righteousness bends the scale of the entire world to merit and he saves it. Because of this matter, all of the House of Israel has the practice of increasing charity and good deeds and to engage in extra mitzvos from Rosh HaShana until Yom Kippur more than all the rest of the year. All of them also have the custom to rise at night in these ten days and to pray in the synagogues, until the light of day, with words of supplication and beseeching ["Slichos" prayers].

5. At the time when [Heaven] weighs the sins of a person with his merits, [Heaven] does not count for him the sin in which he sinned first, nor the second. Only from the third and thereafter. If [Heaven] finds the person's sins, from the third and on, to be more than the merits, then those first two are joined and [Heaven] judges him on all [of his sins]. If it is found that his merits are equal against his sins, which are from the third and on, [Heaven] removes all of his sins, one at a time. The third [sin] is counted as the first, since the first two were already forgiven. Similarly, the fourth is counted as the first, since the third has already been forgiven. This continues in the same way until all of the sins are finished. But, when does the aforementioned apply? With an individual person. This is as [scripture] says (Job 33:29), "G-d does all of these things two times, and three, with a man." However, with a community, the first, second and third sin are held in abeyance. This is as [scripture] says (Amos 2:6), "The L-rd says this, 'For three sins of Israel [I will cancel punishment] but for four I will not turn [punishment for sin] away.'" When [Heaven] counts their [sins] in this way, they count it from the fourth and thereafter. The mediocre [are those whose sins equal their merits, so that half of their deeds are merits and half are sins]. If the half which are [a mediocre person's] sins included failure to put on Tefillin, he is always judged by his full measure of sins, however he has a portion in the world to come. Similarly, all of the evil people, whose sins exceed [their merits], they are judged according to the full count of their sins, but they have a portion in the world to come, because all of Israel has a portion in the world to come even if the sinned, as [scripture] says (Isaiah 60:21), "And your nation are all righteous, they shall always inherit the land." Similarly, the righteous of the gentile nations have a portion in the world to come.

6. These are those who have no portion in the world to come, who are cut off, eternally lost and judged according to the enormity of their evil and sins, dead forever and for eternity: heretics, those who deny G-d; those who deny prophesy or G-d's omniscience; those who deny or replace Torah; deny resurrection of the dead, coming of the redeemer [Mashiach]; rebellion against or abandoning Torah; those who cause the public to sin; those who separate from the ways of the Torah community; those who sin with a high hand and impudent attitude in front of other people, like Yehoyakim; those who inform or turn a Jew in to non-Jewish authorities without advance Torah-sanctioned permission; those who frighten a community without Torah-sanction and purpose; murderers; speakers of loshon hora (slander, gossip, defamation - even if the harmful speech was true); and one who undoes his circumcision.

7. There are five who are called minim (heretics, those who deny G-d). The one who says that there is no G-d or that the world has no Leader. The one who says that the world has a leader but there are two or more [i.e. not one]. The one who says that there is One Ruler but that He has a body or a form. The one who says that He is not the First Cause and the Rock Of The Universe alone. The one who worships any idol, star, constellation, ideology or anything besides G-d, or to be any intermediary between any human being and the Master of the universe. All of these five are guilty of being a heretic.

8. There are three who are called apikorsus (those who deny prophesy or G-d's omniscience). Those who say that there is no prophesy at all and that there is no knowledge that reached from the Creator to the heart of man. Anyone who contradicts the prophesy of Moshe our Rabbi. The one who says that the creator does not know the deeds of human beings. All three of these are guilty of being an apikorus. There are three kinds of people who are deniers or replacers of Torah. The one who says that the Torah is not from Hashem, even one verse, even one word. Or if he said that Moshe said on his own [and not from prophesy from G-d], this is one who denies Torah. Likewise, anyone who denies [the Torah's] explanation, being the Oral Torah; anyone who contradicts its instructors; as, for example, Tzadok and Baitus did. The one who says that the Creator exchanged one commandment for a second commandment and this nullified or replaced the first unit of Torah, even though the "first Torah" was from Hashem, for example Christians or Moslems, all of these are deniers of Torah.

9. There are two categories of Jew who are called those who rebel against or abandon Torah [moraid, mumar, meshumad - different terms in different manuscripts; in any event, Rambam is about to clearly define exactly what he means]. The mumar le'avaira achas [one who removes one commandment to "legitimize," in his mind, violation of the one commandment to permit one sin] and mumar lekol haTorah kula [one who removes the entire Torah to "legitimize," in his mind, violation of all of the commandments, to permit any and all sins]. One who abandons one commandment to permit one specific sin to himself is one who determines in his mind to do a given sin intentionally and to be habituated in it and has become well known for it. This even includes relatively light transgressions, such as being characterized as continually wearing shatnez [a garment containing wool and linen, Deuteronomy 22:11] or lihakif pe'ah [he cuts the hair at the corner of his head, Leviticus 19:27]; so that it is as if he nullified the particular commandment out of the world, as far as he is concerned. He is a "mumar" with respect to that thing, if he did it with intent to spite the Torah. A mumar lekol haTorah kula [is one who abandons the entire Torah]. For example, those who pursue idolatry or who convert to another religion. This might happen at a time that there is decree of legislation [demanding abandonment of Judaism for another religion] and then the Jew joins them [if there is no decree, moving to another religion is all the more unjustifiable because there is no jeopardy contributing to the motive]; and the Jew says, "What profit do I have to cling to Israel? for they are downtrodden and chased after; it is better for me to leave the Torah and to cling to these other people because they have more power." One who does the likes of this is an apostate against the entire Torah.

10. How is a person guilty of causing the public to sin? A person causes others to commit a serious sin, as did Yerovom, Tzadok and Baitus; or he caused them to violate a relatively light transgression; or nullified their performance of any obligation that they were required to actively do; or one who forces others until they will sin, like King Menasha who killed many Jews to compel them to serve idolatry; or who deceives others into error or misleads them that they go astray.

11. The one who separates from the ways of the Torah community, even though he did no sin, but he differentiated himself from the congregation of Israel, and he does not perform the commandments as a member among them, and he does not participate in their troubles, he does not fast on the days of their fasting; but rather he goes on his way as if he were one of the gentiles of the world and as if he were not one of the Jewish people; he has no share in the world to come. If he does sins with a high hand and impudent attitude, like Yehoyakim, whether he did relatively light sins or serious sins, he has no share in the world to come. Such a person is called "sinful inventor of false Torah" because he is brazen about his impudence and shows his face with no shame from words of Torah.

12. There are two categories among those who inform or who turn a Jew in to non-Jewish authorities. One is he who turns a fellow Jew over to the hand of a gentile to kill or punish him. The other is the one who turns the money or property of a Jew over to the hand of a gentile or to the hand of a Jew who is a tyrant who, for this, is like a gentile. Both of these have no share in the world to come.

13. Those who frighten the community without Torah purpose or sanction, being to rule the community with force to scare and terrify them with the intention being for their own honor and for their own aims; not for the honor of Heaven, just like gentile kings.

14. Each and every one of these twenty four types of person which we have enumerated, even though they are Jews, have no share in the world to come. There are also sins which are less severe than these and, even so, the sages have said that any person who is habituated in them has no share in the world to come. The person should distance himself from them and be careful about them. These are those [who will lose their share in the world to come]: the one who gives another a nickname [generally meaning with a derogatory or shaming implication] or calls him by a nickname, one who shames another in front of people, one who makes himself look honored by his degradation of another person, one who demeans Torah sages or his rabbis, treats holidays disrespectfully, and desecrates holy things. In what case do we say that for all of these a person has no share in the world to come? If he dies without repentance. However, if he returned from his evil and then dies as one who had repented, he is counted as having returned in repentance and he has a share in the world to come. There is nothing in your way that stands in your way to repenting. Even if one denied the essential principles of Torah all of his life and, at the end, he sincerely repented, he has a share in the world to come. [This is as scripture] says (Isaiah 57:19), "'Peace, peace for the one who is far and for the one who is near,' says the L-rd, 'And I will heal him.'" G-d accepts all of them - those who are evil, those who abandon Torah, and all who are like them - when they return in repentance, whether in the open or whether privately, as [scripture] says (Jeremiah 3:22), "Return you slipping children and I will heal your backsliding." Even if a person is still backsliding, when he repents, even in secret and not openly, [Heaven] accepts him in his repentance.


1. Twenty four things block repentance. Four of them are huge sins and the Holy One blessed be He does not allow any person who does any of them to have the chance to do repentance, because of the severity of the sin. These are [the four sins]. A. Those who cause the public to sin. This sin includes blocking the public from actively fulfilling a commandment [as well as causing them to actively sin]. B. The one who turns his fellow Jew from the good path to evil, such as the instigator or enticer [Deuteronomy 13:3, the case there being one who attempts to seduce Jews to serve other gods]. C. The one who sees his child going out [of the Torah way] to a bad course and does not protest and stop him. Since his son is subject to his authority, if he were to protest against [his child], he would have separated [from his evil course, so, since he did not, it is considered that the father] made him sin. Included in this sin is every time when it possible to protest to stop other Jews, whether individuals or groups, and the person did not protest and stop them. Rather, he let them stumble. D. Any person who says, "I will sin and then I will repent." Included in this category is the one who says, "I will sin and Yom Kippur will atone."

2. Among [the twenty four things which prevent repentance] are five which close off the ways of repentance before the person who does them. And these are the [five]. A. The one who separates himself from the Torah community, since at the time when they repent, he will not be with them, so he will not have merit with them when they [obtain] merit through their [repentance]. B. The one who separates from the words of the sages, since his argument with them causes him to separate from them so he does not know the ways of repentance. C. The one who derides the commandments, since the are degraded in his eyes, he does not chase after them and does not do them, and if he does not do them he will not have merit. D. One who shames his Torah teachers, for this thing causes him to be thrown out and banished, like Gechazi [who was ostracized by Elisha the prophet, 2 Kings 5:20-27]. From the moment that [a person who ridicules or scoffs a teacher] is banished, he will not find someone to teach to him the way of truth. E. The one who hates correction, since he does not leave for himself a way to come back [in repentance]. When a person corrects another, this causes repentance. At the time when people make a person's sin known to him and they make him feel shame, he returns in repentance, as is written in the Torah (Deuteronomy 9:7), "Remember and do not have been rebels against the L-rd;" (Deuteronomy 29:3), "And the L-rd did not give you a heart with which to know [the goodness of G-d and loyalty to Him]...until today;" (Deuteronomy 32:6), "Foolish and unwise people [for ingratitude towards G-d and for crookedness]." And Isaiah similarly rebuked Israel and said (Isaiah 1:4), "This is a sinful nation;" (Isaiah 1:3) "An ox knows its owner...but Israel does not know;" (Isaiah 48:4) "For I know that you are stubborn." And G-d commanded him to rebuke sinners, as [scripture] says (Isaiah 58:1), "Call out loudly, do not spare." Similarly, all of the prophets rebuked Israel until they repented. Therefore it is necessary to appoint in each and every community a wise and mature man, G-d fearing since his youth and loved by the people, to constructively correct the public and return them in repentance. And this individual who hates correction never comes to one who corrects and doesn't hear the words of [one who corrects]. Therefore, he remains in his sins, which are good in his eyes.

3. And among the [twenty four] things, there are five things which are impossible for the one who does them to return from in complete repentance, because they are sins between himself and another person, and he doesn't know the person against whom he sinned. He cannot make reparations and cannot request [that the victim] forgive him. And these are [the five things]. A. One who curses a group. He does curse one person so he does not know from whom to ask pardon. B. One who splits the take with a thief, since he does not know whose stolen property it is. The thief steals from the public and brings this person the stolen property and he takes it. Further, since he encourages the thief to steal [by helping him to sell or dispose of the property], he is considered to be causing the thief to sin. C. The one who finds lost property [of a fellow Jew] and who does not announce that he found it in order to return it to its owner. In the future, when he will repent, he will not know to whom to return [the property]. D. The one who eats the ox [food] belonging to the poor, orphans or widows. These are people who are downtrodden and weak. They are not well known nor familiar. They migrate from town to town. People do not recognize them in order to know whose ox this is that one could return [it to them]. E. The one who accepts a bribe to pervert a legal decision. He cannot know how far his bending of the law has gone and how much power it had, that he could know how to return. He will find rationalizations to substantiate his action in the matter as being justice. Further, he encourages the one who bribes him, and is considered to have caused [the bribe giver] to sin.

4. And from [the twenty four things], five things are things which a person does and has a natural inclination to not repent from them, because they are light things in most people's eyes. So, people sin and imagine that there is no sin in it. And these are [the five]. A. The one who eats from a meal where there is not enough for the host. This is a measure of robbery. He imagines that he didn't sin and he will say, "I only ate with permission." B. The person who uses a poor person's pledge [e.g. being held as collateral for a loan or debt], for the pledge of a poor person is something useable, such as his axe or plow. [The one who uses the property without permission] says to himself, "I'm not diminishing it and I'm not stealing it." C. The one who looks at women who are forbidden to him. He considers it in his mind to be nothing and he says, "I have not had physical contact with her and I have not gotten close to her." And he does not know that seeing with his eyes is an enormous sin and it leads to actual sins with women, as [the Torah] says (Numbers 15:39), "Do not go looking after your hearts and after your eyes." D. The one who seeks his own honor through another person's disparagement. He says to himself that he does not sin since the other person is not there and embarrassment shouldn't reach him. He does not think he embarrasses [the other person]. He just weighed his wonderful deeds and intellect against the deeds or intellect of the other person to demonstrate that in general he is esteemed and the other is derided. E. The one who has suspicion about people not proven to be guilty. He says to himself that he has not sinned since he says, "What have I done to him? The only thing there is suspicion that perhaps he did or did not do a certain thing." This person does not know that this is a severe sin to consider one who is innocent to be a sinner [although one may take appropriate precautions not to come to vulnerability or harm with a person who you do not know or who you have reason to fear].

5. And from [the twenty four things] there are five which the one who does them is pulled after there continually and they are very difficult to separate from. Therefore, a person must be very careful to stay away from them for he may become stuck in them, and they are all traits of the utmost evil. And these are [the five]. A. Telling people about things which another Jew said or did against them, for no practical and beneficial purpose. B. Talking slanderously or disparagingly about another Jew, when so as to put the person in a bad light or to bring to his harm for no practical and beneficial purpose - the fact that what is said is true does not matter, the fact that it is harmful does. C. The angry person, particularly the one who is quick to anger or who gets furious. D. The one who has evil thoughts. E. The one who gets close to an evil person, because he learns from his [evil] deeds and they get impressed into his heart. This is what King Solomon (Proverbs 13:20) said, "The companion of fools will be injured." And we already explained in "Hilchos Dayos" things in which every person must conduct himself. All the moreso, this applies to the repentant [so that his return will be secure and lasting].

6. All of these things, and everything like them, even though they block repentance, they do not prevent it. Therefore, if a person did repentance from them, the person is considered a full repentant and he has a share in the world to come.


1. Free choice is given to every person. If he wants to bend himself to the good path to be a saint, he has the ability. If he wants to bend himself to the bad path to be wicked, he has the ability. This is written in the Torah (Genesis 3:22), "See that man has become like one of us to know good and evil." This means to say: see that this species of man was unique in the universe and there is no second species comparable to him in this matter, that it should be that he himself, with his mind and his thought, knows good and bad, and he does all which he wants, and there is no one to stop him from doing good or evil. Since this is the case [the Torah in Genesis 3:22 also says], "Perhaps [man] will send out his hand" [i.e. since he took from the tree of knowledge of good and bad, man may also eat from the tree of life, also in the Garden of Eden, and live forever. Since man may do evil, he had to be banished by G-d from the Garden of Eden].

2. Do not let cross your mind the thing which is said by the imbeciles among the gentiles and the numerous Jewish idiots that the Holy One blessed he decrees upon each individual from the beginning of his existence that he be saintly or wicked. This is not the way it really is. Rather, every individual is altogether capable of being as saintly as Moshe our Rabbi or as thoroughly evil as Yerovam; or a sage or a fool, or compassionate or cruel, or stingy or generous, or any of the other character traits. There is no one who forces him and no one makes any decrees upon him and no one pulls him to any of the extremes. Rather the person himself, from his own mind, turns to any path which he wants. This is what Jeremiah said [Lamentations 3:38], Evil and good do not come out of the mouth of the Highest One." This means to say that the Creator does not decree on any person that he be good nor bad. Therefore, it turns out that the sinner has destroyed himself. Therefore, it is proper for him to cry and to beseech G-d about his sins and on the damage he has done to his spirit and how he has bestowed harm on it. This is what is written immediately after it [in Lamentations 3:39], "Why does a living man complain, the man who claims to be strong, about his sins?" [Jeremiah the prophet] continues by saying: since the choice is in our own hands, and we acted intentionally in all of the wrongs which we did, it is appropriate to return in repentance and to abandon all of our evil, since the choice is now in our hands. This is what is written after it [in Lamentations 3:40], "Let us examine our ways and inspect and return all the way to the L-rd."

3. This is a great and fundamental principle and it is a pillar of the Torah and the commandment, as [the Torah] says (Deuteronomy 30:15), "See, I have put before you today life." And it is written [in the Torah, Deuteronomy 11:26-28], "See, today I place before you [blessing and curse; the blessing when you obey the commandments of the L-rd your G-d which I command you today; the curse if you do not obey the commandments of the L-rd your G-d, and you turn from the path which I command you today..."]. This means to say that the choice is in your hands. Everything that a person wants to do, from among all of the possible things which human beings can do, he can do, whether good things or bad things. Because of this principle, it is said [in the Torah, Deuteronomy 5:26], "Would it be that there was a heart such as this in them." This means to say that the Creator does not force any person and does not decree on them that they do good or evil. Rather, everything is given over to their free will choice.

4. If G-d would have decreed on a person to be a saint or to be evil; or if there was existing some power in his essential nature which pulls a person to any path from among all possible paths, or to a body of knowledge from among all the bodies of knowledge, or to any deed from among all the possible deeds; as the fabricating astrologers concoct from their imbecilic hearts; how would G-d have commanded us through his prophets: do this and do not do that, improve your ways, do not go after your evil course? [How could G-d have taught and commanded us if] from the beginning of his existence a thing was already decreed upon an individual or his nature pulled him to a thing from which it is impossible to budge? [The reader is reminded that at the beginning of "Yesodai HaTorah (Foundations Of The Torah) Rambam demonstrated logically that it is impossible for there to be any existence but for there being a first cause...Hashem, the Creator of everything.] Where would there be place for all of the Torah? Through what law and through what justice would the criminal be penalized or the righteous rewarded? Will the Judge Of All The World not execute justice? Do not be surprised and say, "How is it possible that a person will do everything which he wants, and the capacity to act as he will is given over to him entirely? Can he do anything in the world for which he does not have the permission of his Owner, and [can the person do anything] which is not [G-d's] will?" [Scripture] says (Psalm 135:6), "All which the L-rd wanted He did on Heaven and earth." Know that [G-d] will do everything according to His will, even though the capacity to act is given over to us. How is this so? The Creator wished for fire and wind to rise upward, and water and earth fall downward, and the planets each rotate in a circle, and all the remaining creations in the universe are in accord with the nature which [G-d] wanted [each to steadily act] with; in just the same way [G-d] wanted choice to be in the hand of man. All capacity to act is given over to him. There will be none to force him and none to pull him. Instead, the person himself, with his own mind which G-d has given him, does everything which a human being is capable of doing. Therefore, Heaven judges him according to his actions. If he has done well, [Heaven] does good to him. If he has done evil, [Heaven] does bad to him. This is what the prophet says (Malachi 1:9), "From your own hand this was done to you;" (Isaiah 66:3), "They have chosen their own ways and their spirit wanted their abominations." And Solomon said in this matter, (Ecclesiastes 11:9), "Rejoice, young man, in your youth...but know that for everything G-d will bring you to judgement." This means to say: know that you have in your hand the power to do, and in the future you will have to give accounting in Heavenly judgement.

5. Perhaps you will say, "Doesn't the Holy One blessed be He know all which is going to be before it happens?" Either he knows that this person will be righteous or wicked, or He does not know. If [G-d] knows that the person will be a saint, then it is impossible that he not be a saint. You may say, "If G-d knows that the person will be a saint, and it is possible for him to be evil, then G-d would not know the matter clearly." Know that the reply to this question is "A measure more extensive than the earth and wider than the sea (Job 11:9)," and there are countless fundamental principles which are great and exalted to highest levels which depend upon it. You must know and understand this thing which I am saying. We have already explained in the second chapter of "Hilchos Yesoday HaTorah" that the Holy One blessed be He does not know [anything] which is from a knowledge which is outside of Himself, like human beings, whose knowledge and whose selves are two different things. However, He, may His name be exalted, and His knowledge are one, and the mind of a human being is not able to intellectually grasp this thing to a clear degree. Just as a human being cannot intellectually grasp and find the complete truth of the Creator, as [the Torah] says (Exodus 33:20), "A man cannot see Me and live," thusly a person does not have the power to intellectually grasp and find the mind of the Creator. This is what the prophet said (Isaiah 55:8-9), "For My thoughts are not your thoughts and My ways are not your ways, says the L-rd, for as the Heaven is higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts [higher] than your thoughts." Since it is this way, we do not have in us power to know how the Holy One blessed be He knows all of the creations and the actions, but we do know without any doubt that the deeds of man are in the hands of man, and the Holy One blessed be He does not pull him and does not decree on him to do any given thing. It is not because we accept religious teaching alone that we know this thing. Rather, [we know this] from clear proofs which human wisdom teaches. Because of this, it has been said through the prophets that Heaven judges man by his deeds, according to his deeds, whether they are good or evil, and this is a fundamental principle which all of the words of prophesy are centered around.


1. There are many verses in the Torah and in the writings of the prophets which appear to contradict this essential principle, as a result of which a majority of people stumble. It occurs to people to think, from [these verses], that the Holy One blessed be He decrees on man that he do evil or good, and that [the person's] heart is not given over to him to bend it to all which he wishes. Consequently, I will explain this great fundamental principle from which you will know the meaning of all of those verses. At any time when a single individual or the people of an entire country sin, and the sinner does the sin knowingly and willingly, as we learned already, it is fitting that punishment be extracted from him, and the Holy One blessed be He knows how to exact the precise punishment. There are some sins for which Heaven's judgement determines that punishment is exacted from the sinner for his sin in this world, through affliction of his body or through his money or through his little children. Since one's little children do not have mental maturity and they have not come to the age at which they are responsible for obeying the commandments, they are like [the parent's] property [and are a means through which parents might be rewarded or punished. The Torah] says (Deuteronomy 24:16), "Each man will die for his sin." [This teaches that one is not punished] until he becomes an adult. And there are sins for which Heaven's judgement determines that punishment is exacted from [the sinner] in the world to come. In this case, no harm whatsoever comes upon him in this world. And there is sinning for which punishment is exacted from [the sinner] in this world and in the world to come.

2. In what case is the aforementioned said? It applies when the person has not done repentance. But, if the person did repentance, the repentance is a shield against punishments. Just as the person sinned with his knowledge and with his will, so must he do repentance: with his knowledge and with his will

3. It is possible that a person will do a sin that is huge or sins which are numerous so much so that justice before the True Judge will require punishment from this sinner, for those sins which he did with his will and his knowledge, so much that Heaven will take away from him the capacity to do repentance and will not give capacity to repent from his evil, in order that he die and be destroyed through his sin which he did. This is what the Holy One blessed be He said through Isaiah (6:10), "Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and cover their eyes; in order that they not see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and repent and be healed." And this [scripture] says (2 Chronicles 36:16), "And they insulted the messengers of G-d and derided His words and scoffed at His prophets until the fury of the L-rd arose against His people until there was no more remedy." This means to say that they sinned by their evil and they increased intentional sin so much that they became guilty enough that [G-d] withheld repentance, which is the remedy, from them. Therefore, it is written in the Torah (Exodus 4:21), "And I will harden Paro's heart." [This is because Paro] sinned on his own at the start and he did evil to Israel, who were dwelling in his land, as [the Torah] says (Exodus 1:10), "Come, let us deal wisely with [Israel, to enslave them]." Divine law required withholding repentance from [Paro] till the full measure of punishment be brought upon him. Therefore, the Holy One blessed be He hardened his heart [keeping Paro stubborn in his sin]. So, why did [G-d] send [communication] to him through the hand of Moshe, saying: let [Israel] go and repent? And the Holy One blessed be He already said to [Paro], "You will not send them out," as [the Torah] says (Exodus 9:30), "I know that you and your servants do not yet fear the L-rd G-d." [On this, the Torah further wrote of Paro, Exodus 9:16], "And very much indeed because of this I have stood you up [to kingship] in order to show you My power and that My name be recounted throughout the earth." This was to instruct all who come to the world that at the time at which the Holy One blessed be He hold back repentance from the sinner, he is not able to repent; he will only die as a consequence of his evil which he had willingly done earlier. And likewise with Sichon. He made himself guilty by the sins which he had [for which G-d] withheld repentance, as [the Torah] said (Deuteronomy 2:30), "For the L-rd your G-d hardened his spirit and made his heart unbendingly stubborn in order that He give into your hand today." And similarly [it was with] the Canaanites. On account of their abominations, [G-d] withheld repentance from them. Then, they had war with Israel, as [scripture] says (Joshua 11:20), "For it was from Hashem that their heart was hardened, that they should come into war with Israel in order that He destroy them, that they should not have so much as a prayer, in order that they be obliterated." And this occurred to Israel in the days of Eliyahu when their sinning multiplied. [G-d] removed repentance from those who increased sinning, as [scripture] says (1 Kings 18:37), "And you [G-d] caused their heart to turn backward." This means to say that He withheld repentance from them. This all comes out to mean that G-d did not decree on Paro to deal wickedly with Israel, and [G-d did] not [decree] on Sichon to sin in his land, and not on the Canaanites to become disgusting, and not on Israel to worship idols. Rather, all of them sinned on their own and all of them caused themselves to be obligated [by Heaven's judgement] to have repentance held back from them.

4. In this matter, the righteous and the prophets ask G-d in their prayers to help them to come to truth, as David said (Psalm 86:11), "Teach me Your way, G-d, I will walk in Your truth; cause my heart to be one that I may fear Your name." This means to say: let my sins not hold back the way of truth, from which I will know Your way and unify your name [that my heart be exclusively devoted to Your principles and requirements]. A similar thing is said (Psalm 51:14), "Uphold me with an amenable spirit." This means to say: place into my spirit the perfect ability to do your will and let my sins not cause for me that repentance be withheld from me; rather, fully enable me to return from any wrongdoing, and understand and know the way of truth. This manner of explanation applies to all verses which are similar to these.

5. What is the meaning of that which David wrote (Psalm 25:8-9), "The L-rd is good and honest, therefore he instructs sinners in the path, He directs the humble through judgement and teaches the humble His way." This [means] that [G-d] sent prophets to [the sinners] to make them know the ways of G-d and to return them in repentance. Further, He gave them the power to learn and to understand. This attribute is in every Jew. All the time that his interest is drawn to the ways of wisdom and righteousness, he desires them and he chases after them. This what the sages said (Yoma 38b), "The one who comes to purify [himself, Heaven] helps him]." This means to say that the one who sincerely seeks to repent of any given thing will be helped. But does it not say in the Torah (Genesis 15:13), "They will serve them and they will afflict them [Abraham's descendants, the Jewish people, will go down to Egypt where the Egyptians will enslave the Jewish people]." Doesn't this mean that [G-d] decreed on the Egyptians to do evil? And it is written (Deuteronomy 31:16), "This nation will rise up and go astray after strange gods of the land." Doesn't this mean that G-d decreed on Israel to serve idols? So why should He exact punishment from them? [This is the reply to such questions:] Because He did not decree on any given particular individual that he should be the one to go astray to sin. Rather; each and every individual from among those who went astray to worship idols, have illicit relations or otherwise sin; if he did not want to sin, he would not have sinned. The only thing which the Creator was doing was prophesying that, subsequently in history, man would conduct himself according to [the faulty part of] human nature [and not decreeing on anyone that he must, at some point, sin]. To what is this comparable? To saying: in this nation there will be righteous people and wicked people. An evil person cannot say that because of this it has already been decreed on him that he must be wicked, owing to it having been made known to Moshe, that there will be sinful people in Israel. This is similar to that which is written [in the Torah, Deuteronomy 15:11], "The poor will never cease being upon the earth [which prophesies subsequent history, not decreeing on any individual." And so too the Egyptians. Each and every individual from among those Egyptians who were evil to Israel, if he would not have wanted to do bad to them, the capacity was in his hands. [G-d] did not decree on any given individual. Rather, [G-d] made known [prophetically to Abraham] that subsequently his descendants will be subjugated in the future in a land which was not theirs. And we have already said that it is not possible for any human being to know how the Holy One blessed be He knows things which are to be in the future.


1. Since free choice is given to every person, as we explained, each person should strive to repent and to confess with his mouth of his sins and to shake his sins off of hands, in order that he die as a complete returnee [to G-d and Torah] and merit the world to come.

2. A person should at every moment see himself as if he were about to die, as if he is to die in at that moment and it comes out that he stands in his state of sin. Therefore, he should return from his sin immediately. One should never say, "When I am elderly I will repent." Perhaps he will die before he grows old. Solomon, in his wisdom, said this (Ecclesiastes 9:8), "Let your garments be spotlessly white at all times" [be free of sin, and return from sins which you did].

3. Do not say that repentance is only for sins which have an action, such as illicit sexuality, robbery and stealing. Rather, just as it is necessary for a person to return from these, similarly he must search any bad character traits which he has, to repent from anger, and from hate, and from jealousy, and from deriding, and from chasing money or honor, excessive appetite for food, and all which are traits and attitudes which similarly require repentance. One must return from all in repentance. These sins are more serious from those which have forbidden action for when a person has sunk in these, it is very difficult to separate from them. Therefore [the prophet] says (Isaiah 55:7), "Let wicked one abandon his way and the man of iniquity [abandon] his thoughts, and [let him] return to the L-rd and He will have mercy on him, and [let him return] to G-d for He pardons abundantly."

4. Let not the person who repented and returned [to G-d and Torah] imagine that he is far from the high level of saintly people, because of his iniquities and sins. This is not so. Rather, this [person who repented and returned] is loved and adored by the Creator as if he were a person who never sinned in his life. And not only this, but his reward is enormous because he tasted the taste of sin and he separated from it and he conquered his desire. The sages said (Brachos 34b), "The place where those who return stand, those who are completely righteous cannot stand there." This means to say that the level of those who return is far greater than the level of those who are saints who never sinned ever, because [the ones who return] subdue their desires more than the saints.

5. All of the prophets commanded the us concerning repentance and Israel will not be redeemed except through repentance. The Torah already promised that in the end Israel will return and the end of their exile and they will immediately be redeemed, as [the Torah] says (Deuteronomy 30:1-3), "And it will be when all of these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have placed before you, and you will consider them in your heart when you are among the nations where the L-rd your G-d has driven you, and you will return to the L-rd your G-d with all your heart and with all your spirit, and obey His voice and do all which I command you today, you and your children, and the L-rd your G-d will turn your captivity and have mercy on you, and collect you from all of the nations where the L-rd your G-d dispersed you."

6. Repentance is great because it brings a person close to the Divine Presence, as [scripture] says (Hoshea 14:2), "Return Israel until the L-rd your G-d" [the word "until" here means to return as far as you have to in order to reach fulfillment the will of Hashem]." And (scripture) also says (Amos 4:6), "You [Israel] have not returned enough to me." And [scripture] also says (Jeremiah 4:1), "'If you will return, Israel,' says the L-rd, 'to Me you will return." This means to say that if you will return in repentance, you will cleave to me. Repentance brings close those who are distant. Yesterday, this sinful person was hated by G-d, because of his disgusting ways; and he was distant because of abomination. Today he is beloved and adored and close and precious. Just as you find terminology by which the Holy One blessed be He refers to distancing sinners, [you likewise find scriptural language which refers to] bring close those who return, whether for the individual or whether for the community. [This is as scripture] says (Hoshea 2:1), "And it will come to be that instead of that which was said to them, 'You are not My people,' will be said to them, 'You are the children of the living G-d.'" And it is said of Kanyahu, when he was evil (Jeremiah 22:30 and 24), "This said the L-rd. 'Inscribe this man for childlessness, to be a man who will never succeed in all his days.'" "'As I eternally live,' says the L-rd, 'even though Kanyahu the son of Yehoyokim were to be the signet ring on My right hand, from there I would yank him off.'" And since he repented in his exile, [scripture] says of his son Zerubavel (Haggai 2:23), "'On that day,' says the L-rd of Hosts, 'I will take you, Zerubavel the son of Shalti'ail, My servant,' says the L-rd, 'and I will make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you,' says the L-rd of Hosts."

7. How elevated is the attribute of repentance? Yesterday this person was separated from the L-rd, G-d of Israel, as [scripture] says (Isaiah 59:2), "Your iniquities were separating between you and your G-d." He cries out and is not answered, as [scripture] says (Isaiah 1:15), "And when you spread your hands, I will hide My eyes from you, and when you increase prayer I do not hear, your hands are full of blood." If [the sinner] fulfills many commandments [Heaven] tears them up in his face, as [scripture] says (Isaiah 1:12), "Who wants this from your hands to trample my courtyard [the Holy Temple; meaning that sacrifices, charity and mitzvos are an abomination to Hashem from a person who does sins, who does not repent, and who expects these deeds to "wash" his slate - only sincere and remorseful tshuva (repentance, reparations to victims, abandonment of the sins and return to the will of G-d) can "wash" the slate; as King Solomon says (Proverbs 15:8), "The sacrifices of the wicked are an abomination to the L-rd." The Torah says (Deuteronomy 10:17), "For the L-rd your G-d He is the G-d of gods and L-rd of all lords; the great, powerful and frightening G-d Who gives no favoritism and will never take any bribe." Rambam continues citing the prophet in scripture, Malachi 1:10] "'Would that there were one among you who would close doors that you not kindle fire on My alter for nothing. I do not want you,' says the l-rd of Hosts, 'Nor will I want any offering from your hand.'" [Scripture further says, Jeremiah 7:21-24], "Thus says the L-rd of Hosts, G-d of Israel, 'Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat meat [i.e. all sacrifices of those who disobey Torah are rejected by G-d], because I did not speak to your ancestors, and I did not command them, on the day when I took them out of Egypt, about burnt offerings and sacrifices. It was on this thing that I commanded them saying, "Obey My voice and I will be your G-d and you will be My nation, and you will act according to all of the way which I will command you in order that it be well for you." And they did not obey and they did not bend their ear and they went in the counsels and manipulations of their evil heart, and they went backwards and not forwards.'" [After Rambam demonstrated how distanced, separated, rejected and despised the sinner is; he continues by showing how close to and beloved by G-d the person who achieves sincere tshuva/repentance is.] Today [after repentance and commitment to Torah], he has cleaved to the Divine Presence, as [the Torah] says (Deuteronomy 4:4), "You who have cleaved devotedly to the L-rd your G-d are all alive today." He cries out and is immediately answered as [scripture] says (Isaiah 65:24), "It will be that I will answer even before he will call." When he fulfills the commandments, [Heaven] accepts them with satisfaction and joy as [scripture] says (Ecclesiastes 9:7), "For G-d has already has already delighted in your deeds." And not only this. G-d is desirous of [the repentant person's good deeds, mitzvos, fulfillment of Torah], as [scripture] says (Malachi 3:4), "Then the offering the Jewish people and Jerusalem will be sweet to the L-rd, as in the bygone days and like in former years."

8. The way of those who properly repent is to have an exceedingly undemanding and low spirit and to be exceedingly humble. If fools disgrace them over their earlier deeds, and say, "Yesterday you did such and such and yesterday you said such and such," let [those who have done tshuva] not feel badly. Rather, let them hear and be joyful and know that this is divine merit for them. Because all the time that they are embarrassed from their past deeds, and they feel mortified because of them, their merit is increased and their quality is greatened. [Regarding those who disparage, embarrass or pain those who do tshuva], It is a total sin to say to anyone who has repented, "Remember your earlier deeds," or to mention them in front of him, in order to embarrass him; or to mentions things or subjects which are comparable to them, in order to mention or remind of what he did. All [such hurtful speaking or hinting] is forbidden and we are strictly warned about it in the general prohibitive commandment: harming with words. The Torah commanded us to be careful about this as it says (Leviticus 25:17), "One of you will not hurt any other Jew, but you will fear your G-d, for I am the L-rd your G-d."