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I am committed to a life provoking the invasion of The Coming Kingdom through: human service, ecstatic prayer, halakhic observation, community building, nurturing hope, and drawing down abiding faith...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What is t'shuvah?

T'shuvah can be defined in a variety of ways. Most of the variety of definitions depend on what the definer sees as the "end-game" of t'shuvah. For example, if the end-game of t'shuvah is to scrupulously observe mitzvot (a most worthy sentiment) then t'shuvah can be defined as aligning ones practices with the Torah. Most would consider this a very limiting definition of t'shuvah. I would suggest that any definition of t'shuvah for the Jewish people would inevitably need to hold Torah observance in addition to many other things. Rav Kook and Rav Shaul present both the "end game" and the root purpose of t'shuvah. I have a feeling that their guidance can help us define t'shuvah in a way that expands its role in our lives as well as the range of its impact.

"Penitence was planned before the creation of the world, and it is for this reason the foundation of the world...To nullify the basic nature of life that man shall become a non-sinner--this itself would be the greatest sin...Penitence redresses the defect and restores the world and life to their original character precisely by focusing on the basis of their highest attribute, the dimension of freedom. It is for this reason that God is called the God of life." -Rav Kook translated from Orot HaT'shuvah

If we are to take Rav Kook at his word we know that, whatever we define t'shuvah to be (it is translated here as "penitence"), it is fundamental to the creation of the world and the journey of that creation. Rav Kook goes on to say that the fruit of t'shuvah is the absence of sin and restoration to freedom; t'shuvah is what allows God to be called the God of life. The end-game of t'shuvah then is to uproot sin and fix its damage, as well as to establish freedom and recognition of the God of life. This sounds like something significantly more transformative than simply admitting what we've done wrong, apologizing, and promising to not do it again. While there's value in the nitty-gritty process (and it oughtn't be done away with), it doesn't center attention around what t'shuvah is ultimately doing in our lives, namely: It turns us into "non-sinners" and brings us into complete freedom. The beginning stages of t'shuvah require introspection, but there is ultimately meant to be a shift.

As most of us here are familiar with B'rit Chadasha, it would seem to be quite obvious that Rav Kook's statements about t'shuvah are directly in line with much of the besora (especially according to the Apostles). Becoming a follower of Yeshua is meant to uproot sin out of our lives and bring us into greater freedom. Rav Shaul takes this even a step further:

"Now all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as reflected in a mirror, are transformed into the same image, from one degree of glory to another, as from the perfect spirit of the true Mashiah." -Korinthians Beta 3:18, The Restored New Testament, Barnstone

We are being transformed into the image of Yeshua! The quintessential act of t'shuvah according to Rav Shaul is immersion in Yeshua and living into our transformation into his glory. This is far from introspection; this is a shift from looking at our own image and becoming obsessed with his and being aware that his is the destination of ours.

The literal meaning of "t'shuvah" comes from the verb, "to turn."

So...I offer for our consideration...

Complete t'shuvah is turning away from our own sin, and toward the face of Yeshua, whose glory we manifest more and more each day. The fruit of t'shuvah is the revelation of God's glory in our lives. I am convinced that with this as our "end-game" our t'shuvah will transform more than our own behavior; it will make us Olam Haba (The Coming Kingdom) operating within Olam Hazeh (This World)...

Now that we have a definition of what t'shuvah ultimately is and does, we are better equipped to explore how to draw closer to its fullness during the month of Elul....


  1. I like your explanation of Teshuvah. If we all truly understood the repenting and turning from our wicked ways and turning to Yahweh God through His Son Yahshua we would all be better people and the Lord could use us in a greater measure to be His light that shines in the darkness of this world. thank you for your insight. Annette C

  2. Enjoyed your post on this subject. Eloquent and pointive. Thank you for your writings.

  3. Before the beginning, God dreamed and the dream was a dream of love. Because it was a dream of love it became a dream of life and in the fullness of time God made what he dreamed become real and each of us was made. T'shuva is our "compass" in life. We turn constantly to God's dream of us and attempt to become it. We spend a life turning constantly to the heart of God which houses our real idenitty and from which we become real! Jeffrey L. Calligan

  4. Yeshua was a Torah observant Rabbi; he also obeyed and observed the Rabbenical Law. Its in your New Bible (the one that Paul created) so you should know what its says; however, Paul, on the otherhand, was not a Torah observant Jew; its doubtful that he was Jewish at all. Paul, more than likely was a Roman soldier and Philospher, who was pretending to be a Pharisee of Pharisees who was going around "dropping names" using Gamaliel as a Reference. Paul was an agent of Rome, sent to convert Jews away from Judaism in order to bring them under one tent; the control of Rome. Paul's message directly sought to invalidate the Tanakh (please do not call it the Old Testament) and his dubious message was meant to strip Jews away from the core fundamentals of the Hebrew scriptures. "JEWS FOR JESUS" listen up! There is nothing Jewish about trying to strip a Jew away from the fundamental court teachings of the Torah. What do you do is your business; if you want to deify and worship a man then that's completely up to you. But don't go around pretending to be Jews; when you are in fact, not anything even remotely close to Judaism. If there any Jews here reading this message then please run away from this site like its "the plague"

    1. Interesting claims you make, but where is your evidence? Funny that a Roman agent would spend a good portion of his life in prison for the sake of bringing the Jews under Roman control; funnier still that he would be martyred for this reason. If Paul/aka Rabbi Sha'ul was a Roman agent, why was he preaching one God rather than the many that the Romans worshiped? Your argument has the ring of panic, but I see no evidence to support it.

  5. http://fromthemachine.org/NASHOWER.html

    ... welcome to the beginning.


    ^c, ha-dasha

  6. Dear Lance Montefiore Davidson von Rothchild,

    I have a question which I've always been curious about & never received an adequate answer. I am a goyim. I am also a Believer in Jesus. I understand from some of my friends who identify themselves as Jewish that it is true to say that one is Jewish as well as an atheist or does not eat kosher. In these situations, it seems to me that what they are saying is that their DNA decends from Abraham. But that they are also saying they do not believe the Tanakh. If they say one can still be Jewish yet not believe in God, would you agree that they are speaking to their ancestry vs religion? If that is true, then how is it that one can be a Jewish decendant yet if they believe in Jesus, their belief negates their ancestry?