Monday, August 1, 2011

The Gates of Repentance

"Good and upright is the Lord; therefore doth He instruct sinners in the way" (Psalms 25:8). Even if they have offended and rebelled exceedingly, and been utterly faithless, He has not closed the doors of repentance to then, as it is said, "Turn ye unto Him against whom ye have deeply rebelled, O children of Israel" (Isaiah 31:6), and, "Return, ye backsliding children, I will heal your backslidings" (Jeremiah 2:22).

The Torah in many instances exhorts us in relation to repentance. It is shown that penance is accepted even when the sinner repents because of his many troubles, much more so when his repentance proceeds from the fear and love of God, as it is said, "In thy distress, when all these things are come upon thee, in the end of days, thou wilt return to the Lord thy God and hearken to His voice" (Deuteronomy 4:30). And it is clear from the Torah that God assists the penitent when they are limited by their nature, and implants in them a spirit of purity whereby they may attain to the level of loving Him, as it is said, "And thou shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and hearken to His voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thy heart and with all thy soul" (ibid. 30:2); and in the same connection it is said, "And the Lord thy God will circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed..."(ibid. 6) to attain to the love of God. The Prophets and The Writings are replete with references to repentance, so that all of the principles of repentance are contained withing them, as will be explained.

Rabbeinu Yonah of Gerona

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