Iggeres Ha’Teshuvah Chapter 10, Class 3

Tanya/ Iggeres Ha’Teshuvah – The Epistle on Repentance, Chapter 10, Class 3


Since prayer is an expression of teshuvah ilaahthe higher level of return,

וּמֵאַחַר שֶׁהַתְּפִלָּה הִיא בְּחִינַת תְּשׁוּבָה עִילָּאָה –

it must be preceded by teshuvah tataahthe lower level of return that is reached by the contriteness of a penitent heart.”

צָרִיךְ לְהַקְדִּים לְפָנֶיהָ בְּחִינַת תְּשׁוּבָה תַּתָּאָה.

This is what the Sages intended in the Mishnah: “One should embark on worship only in an earnest frame of mind.”13

וְזֶהוּ שֶׁאָמְרוּ רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה בַּמִּשְׁנָה: “אֵין עוֹמְדִין לְהִתְפַּלֵּל אֶלָּא מִתּוֹךְ כּוֹבֶד רֹאשׁ”,

Rashi explains this to mean “humility”.

וּפֵירֵשׁ רַשִׁ”י: “הַכְנָעָה”,

This is the state of teshuvah tataah,

וְהִיא בְּחִינַת תְּשׁוּבָה תַּתָּאָה

in which one arouses Divine compassion for oneself, as noted above, in chs. 7 and 8.

לְעוֹרֵר רַחֲמִים כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל,

This the Talmud14 infers from a phrase which states with regard to Chanah,

וְכִדְיָלִיף הָתָם בַּגְּמָרָא מִקְּרָא, דִּכְתִיב:

“She was bitter of spirit, [and she prayed to G‑d].”15

“וְהִיא מָרַת נָפֶשׁ”.

At the same time, we must note the Baraita there: “Our Sages taught, ‘One should embark on worship only with joy.’”16

אָכֵן, בַּבָּרַיְיתָא שָׁם: “תָּנוּ רַבָּנָן, אֵין עוֹמְדִין לְהִתְפַּלֵּל אֶלָּא מִתּוֹךְ שִׂמְחָה”.

Thus, while the individual is to begin his preparations for prayer by achieving a state of bitterness of spirit, he is expected to begin his actual prayers in a state of joy.

In our bereaved generation, however, when not all are capable of turning their hearts instantly from one extreme [to the other], from humility to joy,

וְעַכְשָׁיו בְּדוֹר יָתוֹם הַזֶּה, שֶׁאֵין הַכֹּל יְכוֹלִין לַהֲפוֹךְ לִבָּם כְּרֶגַע מִן הַקָּצֶה,

it is advised that teshuvah tataah be practiced earlier, at Tikkun Chatzotthis is an especially appropriate time for the spiritual stocktaking that leads to the humility of a “broken and contrite heart,” as noted above.17

אֲזַי, עֵצָה הַיְּעוּצָה לְהַקְדִּים בְּחִינַת תְּשׁוּבָה תַּתָּאָה בְּתִיקּוּן חֲצוֹת כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל.

Whoever cannot do this nightly18 should maintain an absolute minimum of once every week, before the Shabbat.

וּמִי שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לוֹ בְּכָל לַיְלָה – עַל כָּל פָּנִים לֹא יִפְחוֹת מִפַּעַם אַחַת בַּשָּׁבוּעַ, לִפְנֵי יוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת,

It is familiar to the initiates in the mysteries of the Torah that Shabbat is of the order of teshuvah ilaah;

כַּנּוֹדָע לַיּוֹדְעִים, שֶׁהַשַּׁבָּת הִיא בְּחִינַת תְּשׁוּבָה עִילָּאָה,

indeed, the very letters of the word Shabbat spell tashev (“You return”),19 as in the phrase, “You cause man to return.”20

וְשַׁבָּ”ת – אוֹתִיּוֹת “תָּשֵׁ”ב אֱנוֹשׁ”,

For on Shabbat, all the worlds ascend to their Source…, and this, too, is the time of the ascent of the soul to its Source—which constitutes the act of teshuvah.

כִּי בְּשַׁבָּת הִיא עֲלִיּוֹת הָעוֹלָמוֹת לִמְקוֹרָם כוּ’,

The prayers of Shabbat in particular—even more than the weekday prayers—[are an act of teshuvah ilaah]. This will suffice for the perceptive.

וּבִפְרָט תְּפִלּוֹת הַשַּׁבָּת, וְדַי לַמֵבִין.

(21We can now understand the phrase, “Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”22

(וּבָזֶה יוּבַן מַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב: “שׁוּבָה אֵלַי כִּי גְאַלְתִּיךָ”,

For since [as in the preceding phrase] “I have erased your sins like a thick cloud,” removing the sitra achara,

פֵּירוּשׁ, כִּי מֵאַחַר שֶׁ”מָּחִיתִי כָעָב פְּשָׁעֶיךָ” הִיא הַעֲבָרַת הַסִּטְרָא אָחֳרָא,

and “I have redeemed you” from the evil (lit., “extraneous”) forces through the arousal of supreme compassion following the initiative taken by man below in his teshuvah tataah, as explained above,

וּ”גְאַלְתִּיךָ” מִן הַחִיצוֹנִים בְּהִתְעוֹרְרוּת רַחֲמִים עֶלְיוֹנִים, בְּאִתְעָרוּתָא דִלְתַתָּא בִּתְשׁוּבָה תַּתָּאָה כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל –

therefore, “Return to Me”—with teshuvah ilaah.”)

אֲזַי – “שׁוּבָה אֵלַי” בִּתְשׁוּבָה עִילָּאָה):




13. Berachot 30b.

14. Ibid.

15.Samuel 1:10.

16. Berachot 31a.

17. Note by the Rebbe: “See above, ch. 7.”

18. Note by the Rebbe: “As explained in ch. 11 of Kuntres Hatefillah [Tract on Prayer], this applies only to great tzaddikim…. For most people, however, it need not be nightly….”

19. Torat Natan (R. Natan Shapiro), Likkutei Amarim, p. 22d [Warsaw, 1894]. Tzava’at Harivash, sec. 18 [English ed. Kehot, N.Y., 1998].

20. Psalms 90:3.

21. Parentheses are in the original text.

22. Isaiah 44:22.

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