11 Cheshvan 5781 / Thursday, October 29, 2020 | Torah Reading: Lech Lecha
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Real Repentance    

Real Repentance

We’ve got it all wrong. We think we need to repent for our sins. But the real repentance we need to do is even deeper than that – and much more simple to fix!


I was speaking this morning with a woman I’ve spoken to multiple times, about the daily  cheshbon hanefesh (spiritual accounting) that is the heart of  hitbodedut – personal prayer. I had  an amazing new insight about the big lie we’ve all been fed by the Evil Inclination, which gave me and her incredible chizuk, and I hope will inspire you too! 


I told her about something Rabbi Arush taught just before Rosh Hashanah – that when a person goes before the Heavenly Court after 120 years on this earth, he will come with all of his reasons and excuses of why he sinned like this and failed like that and didn’t manage to do x, y, and z mitzvot. The judges will tell him, “Yes, you’re right about all that. But why didn’t you pray and ask Hashem to help you? Behold, it’s written clearly in the Gemara, that if Hashem doesn’t help a person, he cannot overcome his Evil Inclination. But if you REALLY wanted to fix yourself and clean up your act, then you would have put in effort! You would have learned about what you should be doing instead, you would have tried your best and especially, you would have prayed every day about it!” And the Heavenly Court will throw the book at that person! 


On the other hand, when a person accepts upon himself to work on himself, and chooses one thing to focus on first, and starts praying and working to fix it every day for 30 minutes – then on the very first day he is already written in Heaven that he is PERFECT in that area! Even if the road is very long until he corrects that thing, already it’s as if he achieved it! 


Even more, Hashem has mercy on him and doesn’t punish him for his other sins in the meantime either. G-d understands that it takes time to fix ourselves, and that in order to succeed, by definition we must only work on one thing at a time (for more about this concept, read A New Light and Dennis Rosen’s excellent Where There is a Will, There is a Way series. Therefore, Hashem is patient. He only sends wake-up calls to those who need it – this person is waking up on his own and doing his work, so he doesn’t need anything more than gentle prodding in the right direction in order to understand what steps to take next. 


Therefore, Rabbi Arush said that when he was praying at the Tzion of Rebbe Nachman in Uman over Rosh Hashanah, he realized that the real repentance that we need to do – is that we didn’t pray enough and ask Hashem for help! 


Take a minute and think about it! How incredible is it?  


All you have to do is do your work, and try to work and pray about just ONE THING, and suddenly all the harsh judgments have been taken off you – even as you are in the meantime. 


Hashem is a huge rachman – full of mercy, love and understanding. Hashem knows our nature. Hashem knows our Evil Inclination. Hashem knows the incredible challenges of this generation, that just being a simple, upright Jew with emuna puts you on the level of the greatest tzaddikim of previous generations. Hashem knows, Hashem understands, and Hashem is merciful! 


But Hashem is not a vatran – he doesn’t let go of anything! If you don’t do your work, if you don’t learn and pray for Hashem’s help about that one thing, if you don’t work on yourself, if you don’t do your hour of personal prayer, if you don’t do your daily spiritual accounting from yesterday until today, every single day – then the book gets thrown at you. All of your excuses and reasoning about why you can’t manage to fix yourself in function – that’s all well and good, but you have NO EXCUSE FOR NOT ASKING HASHEM TO HELP YOU FIX IT!


Now that you understand Rabbi Arush’s awesome teaching, click here to read about my incredible insight in The Evil Trick. 



Rachel Avrahami grew up in Los Angeles, CA, USA in a far off valley where she was one of only a handful of Jews in a public high school of thousands. She found Hashem in the urban jungle of university. Rachel was privileged to read one of the first copies of The Garden of Emuna in English, and the rest, as they say, is history. She made Aliyah and immediately began working at Breslev Israel.  

Rachel is now the Editor of Breslev Israel's English website. She welcomes questions, comments, articles, and personal stories to her email: rachel.avrahami@breslev.co.il. 


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