The Road of Return: T’shuvah

September 8, 2014
Reading time: 3 minutes
Purpose, Self Improvement


Imagine that you loan out a sizable amount of money, let’s say $10,000, but when it comes time to collect repayment you only remember loaning $100. Because you only remember loaning $100 that is all you request and that is the amount you are paid.

In real life would you ever forget having loaned out the other $9,900? Very unlikely!

In preparation for the New Year (Rosh Hashanah) we are given the opportunity of this month of Virgo. We are to use Virgo as a time to take a long look at the year past and make an unflinching appraisal, an accounting if you will. What are we counting? All the things we did that we wish we hadn’t and all the things we wish we had! If you’re anything like me there are a few words that you’d rather had remained unsaid, some thoughts left un-thought and some opportunities that you wish had been taken. We dredge up all this unpleasantness because the damage can be corrected, not because we like to beat ourselves over the head with our past mistakes! Like money loaned out, we can get back what we lost. It’s a process called t’shuvah, which means ‘return’ and acts like a cosmic eraser.

Simply, the negative things we have done over the past year can be corrected this month of Virgo.

“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world … as in being able to remake ourselves.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

T’shuvah is commonly thought of as ‘repentance’, but kabbalists regard t’shuvah as far more empowering. The process of taking responsibility for every negative effect we have caused throughout the past year and recognizing our mistakes is a means to actually restore all the Light that we have lost.

Rav Berg always explained that the Hebrew word averah, which comes from the word “to give over,” is mistakenly translated as “sin.” People commonly think they are supposed to use this month, and the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, to repent for their “sins.” But Kabbalah teaches something very important: it is not that someone “sins,” but rather that when a person does an action of selfishness, he takes sparks of Light out of his soul and gives them over to the Negative Side.

One of the tools we can use for t’shuvah is to go back to specific actions of negativity and selfishness that we have done – remember the exact time, day, and place – and visualize that action occurring.  See yourself do that action; and as you do, envision yourself taking sparks of Light from your soul and giving them over to the Negative Side. Doing this will give you the ability to both appreciate what you have done and the amount of sparks you have lost….which is what, in turn, gives you the ability to truly do t’shuvah.

No one likes to admit their mistakes, and as such, we don’t appreciate just how much Light we have lost. We can only get back as much as we think we have lost. Remember that $9,900 that you forgot you loaned out? Same thing here, you only get back what you acknowledge you lost! If we think we only did a small amount of negativity we are only getting back a small amount of Light.

That’s why we have to start being honest with ourselves. Take a good look. When we truly realize what we did was wrong and appreciate how much Light we did in fact give over in doing it, then it is like we have asked for all that Light back… and only then we can get it all back.

The reality is that none of us has true appreciation for our power to do good, which also means that neither do we have an appreciation for our power to do negative. One of the greatest stumbling blocks between ourselves and true t’shuvah, therefore, is the fact that we do not appreciate our own power enough.

This month offers an incredible opportunity to take the time to look at things we wish we hadn’t done, at things that caused pain to ourselves and others, and through the process of t’shuvah, restore all the Light we lost in doing them.



You can’t do t’shuvah in theory. T’shuvah doesn’t work as a concept. This month, commit to reliving a minimum of one cringe-worthy act of negativity a day in order to collect all the sparks of Light that were given over.

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