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Fwd: Complete T'shuvah (Repentance)

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  • Ted Sojka
    I received this from Joe White I believe and maybe you can surmise what he is doing from the letter here. ... I received this from Joe White I believe and
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 8, 2011
      I received this from Joe White I believe and maybe you can surmise what he is doing from the letter here.

      Begin forwarded message:

      Reply-To: Maggid Ben Yoseif <benyoseif@...>


      O’siyo Cherokee Brothers and Sisters,

      The 40 days between Elul 1, which began last Wednesday night, until Yom Kippur ends on the night of Saturday, October 8, the Torah world repents and seeks and grants forgiveness.  This is the admonition of the shofar blasts that are heard daily after morning prayers during this 40-day period.

      Pamela Sexton of the Central Band asked me to share something of the “spiritual essence” of this time of spiritual preparation based on “t’shuvah” (T’SHUV-AH) or “repentance.”  So we may be on the same page with our brothers from Judah, I am happy to do so and pray that our repentance may be "complete."

      The verb SHUV, which forms the Hebrew root of T-SHUV-AH,  means “return” so at the heart of the Torah concept of repentance is removing the obstacles so that a RETURN is possible to Creator.  The Hebrew meaning also implies that one” turns around to return.”  In other words, until the time of Repentance, he or she was going in the wrong direction.

      Although it is possible and we are encouraged to repent at any time during the year, it is necessary to repent of every sin that comes to mind during this 40-day period, inviting the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (RUE-ACH  HA-KO-DEYSH) or Holy Spirit to search the deep recesses of one’s heart, mind and soul.  This presupposes that the penitents have and realize a COVENANT with Creator.

      To digress a moment, if we are of the Mongolian-Israelite East M’nashe assimilation, since the latter was never removed from the Covenant mediated by Moses, we may come to Creator on the strength of our ancestor’s covenant. If we were part of the assimilation of the remaining Northern tribes, that covenant was abrogated.  When a covenant was severed or even if one feels “estranged from Creator,” the mystics among the Torah sages embrace a “tzadik” (a “saint” or a righteous man/woman who has overcome his/her evil inclination) who would perform a “tikkun” or rectification.

      This is usually done by going to the grave of someone who was considered to live a righteous life and once there, praying.  However, one does not pray to the deceased; but to Creator only.  But because this one has come to this one’s grave to pray, the deceased one – in the World To Come -- intercedes on behalf of the petitioner – or completes a tikkun.  We say “completes” a tikkun, because the suffering endured by the tzadik during his life in this world was necessary, first to bring him/her to this exalted spiritual status and second, necessary to vicariously “atone” for this sin.

      The tomb of the Rebbe Nachman of Breslov in the Ukraine is a pilgrimage for thousands of Breslovers, including my mentor, the Rebbe Shani Dor of the Revived Sanhedrin, who told me this:  “Rebbe Nachman, z’’l, promised that anyone who came to his tomb to pray, he would “grab by his payis (long sidecurls) if necessary, to jerk him out of Hell.”   Big Brother, Y’shua (Jesus), was a tzadik.  He overcame his evil inclination and suffered to renew covenant with the Assimilation of the Northern Tribes of Israel.  In his own words, “I am sent ONLY to the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel.”  The buzz words of Israel’s exile decreed in Hosea 1 --  “Jezreel” (or in Hebrew “Yizra’el” “God will scatter” is also a name change of Yisrael), Lo-ruhamah (Without Mercy) and Lo-Ami (Not My People) -- are remedied in prophesies about Big Brother before his birth and at his infancy as Creator’s “remembrance of His Mercy for His People, Israel”. (Luke 1-2).

      Whether new, renewed or a veteran to the Covenant, ALL require t’shuvah or repentance, even the renewed covenant believers, else “the blood of the tzadik, Y’shua, be trampled underfoot,” as the Apostle Paul, himself Torah observant,  properly observed and warned.

      The sages of Torah state that sins committed against Creator require three things for one’s past to be absolved -- so that it no longer affects that one’s spiritual progress --  or for one to attain “complete t’shuvah.”  First, one must come to the place of regret of one’s sin.  Second, confess it.  Third, resolve never to repeat the sin again.   Special services held during the Ten Days between Rosh Hashanah (the beginning of the Hebrew civil calendar) and Yom Kippur (The Great Day of Atonement) are designed to bring the petitioner to the proper place of regret and allow public confession in a “community  setting.”  In other words, the whole community confesses a litany of sins, so no specific “confession” can be tied to any one penitent, yet when the penitent confesses these sins publicly, he/she takes this confession to heart.

      When one sins against a fellow human being, forgiveness from the party who has been harmed,  is also mandatory and necessary before one can come to the place of sincere “regret,” or “resolve” not to repeat the offense.   “Our fellow man’s forgiveness opens the way to Creator’s forgiveness.  Only after forgiveness, regret and resolve may a person make his confession of disloyalty to his Master .” (Chayai Odom, 143).

      The sages have determined that all motives to repent come from four types of “incentives.”

      The best is when a person influenced by no one or thing but by the Spirit alone, reflects on the “continuous favors” Creator bestows.  This is like a son who flees from his father but given time to reflect realizes his father has always had his best interest in mind.  He willingly returns to his father and requests pardon for being rebellious.

      Others are aroused to repent by a rebuke from a teacher or when studying, rebuke of the Torah itself.  This is the son who flees but meets someone who knows his father, reminds him of his father’s good qualities, rebukes him for his rebellious ways and advises him to return with the assurance that he knows his father well enough to know that his father will pardon him.

      Still others may repent when they see calamities befall others who have transgressed Creator’s will.  This is the son who witnesses the punishment of an acquaintance for the same rebellion of which he is guilty.

      Finally, there are the “hard cases” or those who are not shaken from spiritual stupor until they are made to suffer themselves.

      From “The Laws Pertaining to Asking Pardon From One’s Fellow Man Prior to Yom Kippur,” the sages make clear that first and foremost it is NECESSARY to appease the offended.  This is because sins between a man and his fellow are not atoned for on Yom Kippur until the sinner has appeased the offended.  “Even anguish that was caused through mere words needs pardon from the offended, because the Torah considers it sinful to cause a person anguish in any manner.”

      During the Ten Days of Awe from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur, the sages write that Creator “leaves his throne of Judgment” and sits instead on a “Throne of All-Mercy.”  During this time ordained in the Torah as interpreted by Torah sages, any sin may be brought to Creator, no matter how heinous, with the assurance of pardon if the conditions of regret,  resolve for the future,  confession to Creator and pardon from the offended parties are ALL met.  This does not necessarily mitigate events set in motion by this sin, however.

      The command to “Go to water” before Yom Kippur and to avoid defilements of the flesh also indicates the dimension of spiritual purity that elevates one for this holy purpose and occasion.  Yom Kippur then becomes the last opportunity, therefore the “opportune time” to repent and prepare to accept the purification that – until our next sin – leaves us sin-free and “white as snow.”  In the Orthodox synagogues this is evidenced because a declaration following the Sh’ma or declaration:  “Here O Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is One,” which is usually recited in an undertone:  “Blessed be the name of His Glorious Kingdom now and forever,” is instead SHOUTED.  This is because this declaration of Creator’s Holy Angels is ordinarily attributed only to those angels.  But after the purification of Yom Kippur man has the purity of angels (again, until his next sin).

      The greatest prosecutors of man on the Day of Judgment (Yom Kippur) are monetary disputes and obligations.  The sages of Torah advise that since one’s personal motives too easily deflect one from the truth in these matters, one should not rely on one’s own judgment in such disputes.  One should always seek competent authorities skilled in Halachah (Torah law).

      The offender should approach the offended with all seriousness.  The offense committed should be mentioned.  When circumstances make a personal petition difficult, a messenger may be used.

      The offender is obligated according to Halachah to approach the offended for pardon a minimum of four times.  The second, third and fourth approaches should be accompanied by three different individuals on each occasion.  Each time, the manner of approach should be different.

      If no pardon has been granted after four requests, the offender should announce in the presence of 10 people (a minyan) that he/she has fulfilled their obligation of requesting forgiveness.  One should be especially careful never to offend his/her Torah teacher, as he/she must request forgiveness as many times as needed until the teacher forgives.

      The offended party should not act cruelly by refraining from granting a pardon.  If one overlooks even intentional and spiteful acts done to him, Creator will in turn pardon his intentional and rebellious acts previously committed against Him.  But if the offended is hard-hearted and unforgiving, then “Heaven will guide events so that others also will act similarly toward him.

      If the offended delays the granting of forgiveness,  it must be for reasons other than “hatred in his heart” or “ill feelings”, since a request for forgiveness is pending.

      A “motzi shem ra’” (literally one who "brings forth an evil name") is the Hebrew term for slander or false accusation).  When such an accusation is made against someone, the offended is NOT obligated to grant forgiveness, because not all who heard the slander would hear the retraction, and therefore the “bad name” given the victim will remain with those who heard the false accusation.  In situations like this, it is a mark of “humility” to forgive, and the sages write that Creator will reward such meritorious behavior.

      Special care should be exercised, if the person offended is deceased.  On the day before Yom Kippur, the offender should take 10 persons with him/her to the grave of the deceased, remove his shoes and say, “I have sinned against Creator and the people of Israel and against (insert name of deceased who was offended) in (specifics of sin).”  If the deceased is buried at a location that requires more than 3 ½ hours travel, a proxy who has been informed of the sin, may make this declaration in front of the mandatory 10 witnesses at the grave site.

      If one has cursed one since that one’s death, it is not necessary to come to the grave site, but the repentance should be made in the place where the curse was uttered.  Slandering a dead person and not repenting is grounds for spiritual excommunication according to the sages.

      For a more comprehensive treatment of these laws pertaining to repentance, see the Shulchan Aruch (the Code of Torah Law).

      Another important dimension of repentance is “doing tzedekah” or “giving charity.”  While money is never handled and should not be discussed on Shabbat, in many Reform and some Conservative synagogues,  the Kol  Nidre  service held on the night Yom Kippur begins at which the “nidrei” or “vows” declared presumptuously are annulled, is often a time of financial pledges for the operation of the synagogue or associated yeshivas (where Torah and Halachah are taught) in the coming year.

      Tzedekah is not a tithe and is always a free-will offering.  It should never be coerced and one should seek the leading and guidance of the Ruach Ha-Kodesh (the Holy  Spirit) to come across the path of opportunities to give charity.

      The same t’shuvah should not involve multiple offended parties.  If confessions are necessary for more than one party, they should be made individually.   This reduces the problem of “taking up another’s offense,” which is actually a form of judgment.  We should never base our opinions or judgments about someone on anything other than our personal experience and never on the words or opinions of others.  The only exception to this rule is if we are to be involved in some type of contractual relationship.  Then we may listen to admonitions or warnings from someone who has had earlier contractual dealings with the individual.  Otherwise any conversation we have that reduces the status of a third absent party because of what was said, is considered the “evil tongue,” WHETHER OR NOT WHAT WAS SAID WAS TRUE.

      Big Brother admonished his disciples that they should forgive an individual up to 7 x 70 (or 490) times.  This would of course, presuppose 490 confessions.  There is no obligation to forgive someone who is not seeking or who has not asked for forgiveness, however, one should have the attitude in one’s heart that if he/she is approached to grant pardon, it will be immediate and unconditional.

      One must let go of all animosity against one who has harmed them by Yom Kippur.
      It is after all, a new year, in which may we all be inscribed for good.

      Gah geh you e,
      ben Yoseif

      Please address replies to:

      Maggid ben Yoseif
      c/o Eldersgate American Indian Council,
      1106 Pennsylvania Ave.
      Walsenburg, CO.  81089

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