On Yom Kippur are we doing teshuva me’ahavah or teshuva me’yirah?
It means are we repenting because of love of Hashem, or repenting because of fear of Hashem?
Now my friends, let’s be honest and frank and candid and tell the truth. If a man is running out of a house that’s on fire, are we going to ask questions why he’s running? Get out! We don’t care how you do teshuva. Do it any which way. We are not bodek your tzitzis if you’re running out of the house to save your life.
Teshuva me’ahavah is something that requires a very great preparation. To love Hashem is to most of us a very artificial and unreal concept. Now, to be afraid of Hashem, to a certain extent is also unreal but since it’s more attainable, it’s within our reach, so the first thing is we want to live after Yom Kippur.
“Ribono Shel Olam, have pity on us! We see what happened to other people. All around us we have examples, chas vesholom, of great misfortune to individuals. That’s number one. Spare us! שמע קולנו… חוס ורחם עלינו וקבל ברחמים וברצון את תפילתנו.
Cry out from whatever motivation you can. If you can think of as many examples of tragedies, chas vesholom, that you saw all around you and that’s the motivation, so utilize it! Don’t despise that. Anything that will make your feet run faster out of the fire should be mustered. Any kind of energy that will make you cry out to Hashem and ask for forgiveness, utilize it.
After Yom Kippur, sit down now and start thinking of ways and means of loving Hashem. That’s a career. And we speak a great deal about that here.
Now, a lot of people, especially bnei Torah, don’t think in these terms and they look down on people talking about loving Hashem because of what He is doing for you. Their minds are not accustomed to these thoughts. But they are missing out on one of the greatest forms of success in this life.
Learn to love Hashem that you don’t have a colostomy, a hole in your side. You have a beautiful aperture where it is supposed to be; it’s greased and it functions perfectly. Love Hashem for a normal rectum.
“Ha,” you say, “isn’t that silly?” You’ll go back to yeshiva and they’ll say, “What are you talking about? Love Hashem because of your rectum?!” they’ll say. All right, be a chochom, be a chochom.
But a man who has a colostomy he thinks otherwise. “Oh Hashem,” he says, “if you would just restore me to what I was before. How happy I would be! How I envy those people with a normal life.”
And here is a man, you pass by in the street, he is sentenced to riding around on wheels. He can never walk anymore. Love Hashem that you can walk. And learn to say every morning with great happiness, ברוך אתה ה’ אלוקינו מלך העולם המכין מצעדי גבר – You established the footsteps of a man. It’s such a trick to be able to walk upright, to balance yourself on your two legs.
Isn’t that a wonderful achievement as your thighs swing effortlessly back and forth, you feel no pain in your thighs and your knees flex and relax as your ankles bend and straighten out. And all the bones in your feet are working; there’s lubrication between the joints.
Of course, even if you have, chas ve’sholom, arthritis, you should be happy too that you can walk. But if you don’t have any pains when you walk; it’s a joy to walk. A complicated mechanism; all kinds of pulleys and levers – there are muscles working one way and another. Miracle upon miracle that they are all functioning perfectly. You can walk! That’s a great happiness.
So if somebody will say, “Thank Hashem because I can walk? Ha ha,” he is a letz; he ridicules the great gifts of Hashem.
You have to learn that. That’s how you do teshuva me’ahava. You can’t do teshuva me’ahava just by saying “I’ll decide to do teshuva me’ahava.” You have to spend a lifetime of studying how fortunate you are.
All the blessings that we received in company of the rest of mankind are also blessings. And when a person learns to be grateful to Hakodosh Boruch Hu when rain comes, he’s grateful of the fact that the sun rises every morning. ברוך אתה ה’ יוצר המאורות. How many frum Jews go through that brocha and not once think what it’s talking about? And they will ridicule when they see somebody talking about thanking because of the sun, doing teshuva because he loves Hashem for the sunlight, ha ha.
But every morning you say it, it’s the longest brocha in the siddur. So it means that you are living like a robot; you don’t know what you’re saying. That brocha means gratitude; that’s teshuva me’ahava.
And therefore when it comes to Yom Kippur, the time is too short. Let’s say when a man is drowning now, let’s say he’s a sick man. Let’s say he has consumption, he has heart disease, he has lots of sicknesses and he’s drowning. So you are standing on the shore and you have a chart of all his illnesses. So you say “Well, for his heart disease we have to give him a different diet.” He’s drowning by the way. “For his cancer we have to give him chemotherapy and so on.” No, no, forget about that. Hurl a rope out to him, throw a plank to him, save him first of all. Number one is he needs to be rescued from the waters.
So on Yom Kippur the first objective is to be saved from the judgment of the Yom Hadin, any which way. If the fear of the grave is effective, use it. Don’t worry that it’s only teshuva me’yira.
And after Yom Kippur settle down now to get more yirah. Yirah is always important! More fear of the grave! Everybody wants to be alive.
But in addition study the happiness that Hashem gives you every day and all day and little by little you’ll learn to love Hashem.
Maybe next Yom Kippur or maybe twenty Yom Kippurs around you’ll be doing teshvua also me’ahava.
TAPE # 568 (September 1985)