|The Torah Connection-Post Purim Musings|
|Written by Rabbi Yaakov Shlomo Weinberg|
The Ohr Gedalyohu quotes the Megilas Storim that from the Megilah we see the inyan (concept) that through teshuvah me’ahavah (repentance through love) one’s prior sin changes to merit. Yisroel’s willingness to go to the feast of Achashveirosh, which was the cause of their potential disaster, changed to their salvation through Esther becoming queen instead of the anti-Semitic Vashti.
The teshuvah me’ahavah thereby caused them to come closer to Hashem.
The teshuvah retroactively turned the chait into a zechus. He also quotes the Sfas Emes
that this is the understanding of the posuk (verse),
“Uvechein avo el Hamelech asher lo kados (then I will go in to the King though it is unlawful).” The “King” here meaning Hashem,
“shelo kados” means through the chait and thereby will come the yeshuah through teshuvah me’ahavah.
states that teshuvah only helps because of rachamim. Teshuvah cannot help through din because how can a person undo that which has been done? How can one’s thoughts and feelings of repentance undo an act? “Can one then change an act that was already done?” It is, therefore, only through rachamim that teshuvah helps, but regarding din it cannot be undone.
Therefore, according to the Mesilas Yeshorim, teshuvah as it pertains to midas hadin is untenable. A thought, a feeling, a tear cannot nullify an action. Teshuvah exists only through midas horachamim.
Horav Elchonon Wasserman,
Hashem yikom domov (may Hashem avenge his blood) asks a question on the Mesilas Yeshorim from the Gemara
which states that even if one was righteous his whole life and at the very end he rebels to the extent that he is sorry that he was a tzadik his whole life and that he kept all the mitzvos,
he indeed loses them all. Asks Rav Elchonon that if we say that a thought or feeling cannot obliterate an action through the trait of din but only through the trait of rachamim (mercy), how can his bad thoughts at the end cause him to lose all his mitzvos?
The Chofetz Chaim
Rav Elchonon asked this question to his Rebbe, the Chofetz Chaim. The Chofetz Chaim answered that that which teshuvah me’ahavah turns the sin into merit is not din but rachamim. And that which teshuvah me’yirah (out of fear) nullifies the sins is also not through din because he is not really sorry he did it. He is just afraid of the punishment. This is why teshuvah helps only through rachamim but not din. However, according to this, it comes out that the Chofetz Chaim basically disagrees with the Mesilas Yeshorim because he holds that teshuvah out of ahavah does nullify the chait and through din not rachamim. It is only to make it into a merit that it is rachamim. A thought or feeling, therefore, can nullify an action.
The Ohr Gedalyohu
According to the Ohr Gedalyohu, brought before, teshuvah me’ahavah causes the sin to become a merit because the sin caused the teshuvah me’ahavah to happen. This would answer the Chofetz Chaim’s argument that is shouldn’t help to give merit. Since the teshuvah brought on the merit it would warrant the merit. This is to say that teshuvah me’ahavah is not just looked upon as a means to nullify the chait. Achieving a closeness and ahavah to Hashem is in itself a great achievement. Since it was brought about because of the chait, this in and of itself gives merit to the chait even through din.
What exactly is teshuvah me’ahavah? Many and probably most of us consider it a madreigah (level) which is beyond us. We’re happy enough to do teshuvah me’yirah. This is because we think of teshuvah me’ahavah as meaning a passionate feeling of love for Hashem.
However, according to the Chofetz Chaim above, teshuvah me’yirah means he is really only thinking of himself, he is afraid of being punished. This would mean that anything above that is me’ahavah – even without passion. It is understood that as in everything else there are many levels.
If a person feels that something he did was not right, not proper, this is teshuvah me’ahavah. Between person to person also – you interrupted someone speaking, were callous in your words toward them, took advantage, etc and you feel badly about it. You’re not passionate about your guilt. At the same time, you’re not worried about punishment. According to the Chofetz Chaim since you are actually sorry about your deed it’s a form of teshuvah me’ahavah. In the same way, a person sometimes is makir tov (grateful) for all that Hashem has given him and does for him. How could he therefore have done this or that. He is embarrassed and ashamed ... Perhaps a tear or two. This is teshuvah me’ahavah.
1 Moadim (Purim) p. 92
2 The Nesivos
3 Which is not the case regarding teshuvah me’yirah (repentance through fear of punishment) where one’s sins done on purpose are only changed as if they were not done on purpose but rather bishgagah (through carelessness).
4 Esther became queen before they did teshuvah – which happened five years later – but she was in place to help them and succeed when they did teshuvah.
5 How do we know that the teshuvah at that time was me’ahavah? Perhaps it was me’yirah (out of fear of the punishment)? Chazal state (Megilah 14a) “Gedolah hasoras hataba’as …” (the removal of the ring [which Achashveirosh gave to Homon giving Homon the power to decree] made more of an impression to do teshuvah than the forty-eight prophets and seven prophetesses that adjured Yisroel throughout the previous generations) refers to the fear that that action aroused. (See Rashi there.)
Perhaps the “teshuvah me’ahavah” refers to the Gemara in Shabbos 88a “Kiymu v’kiblu …” (they established [reaccepted] that which they had already accepted). See Rashi there, “out of love and gratitude for the miracle and salvation of Purim.”
6 Purim (Tov Resh Lamed Zayin)
7 Esther 4:16
8 See the Gra on Megilas Esther 7:10 that “Melech” in the Megilah without the attachment of “Achashveirosh” refers to Hashem.
9 Mesilas Yesharim chp 4.
10 Koveitz Maamarim, Maamar al Teshuvah ose 1.
11 End of the first chp. of Kidushin.
12 See Rashi ibid.