• Shterna Ginsberg

IS TESHUVA FOR PEOPLE WHO AREN’T GOOD ENOUGH?

Updated: Aug 31, 2021


Question from our inbox:

For as long as I remember, I always thought I was worth as much as I could get done. Since I joined your classes, I am trying to change that perspective. I’m recognizing my true worth, the value of my G-dly soul, which is deeper than anything I do or don’t do. With Rosh Hashana coming soon, I’m reflecting on the year that has passed; I’m thinking about what I did right or didn’t do wrong. I feel my old judgments coming back. How can I value myself and feel sincere teshuva in the same breath?


Teshuva is one of the most misunderstood concepts. Many people think it means, “I was bad! Now I have to say I’m sorry and be good.” That’s not teshuva.

The word teshuva means return to Hashem. To return to Hashem, we must first recognize that our deep connection with Hashem is our starting point. It’s where we belong; it’s the place to which we must return.


We do teshuva not because we’re bad, but because we’re good – because we’re G-dly. Throughout the year, we forgot who we really are. We were unaware of Who we’re dependent on. We got distracted from what our life is really about.


The Baal HaTanya says there is no greater distance than when two beloved are standing with their backs towards each other. When we ignore Hashem or when we do things that contradict our inherent connection, we are turning our backs on Him. Teshuva means turning around to face Him once again.


With the understanding of what teshuva really is, it’s clear that we can only engage in the work of teshuva when we recognize that our rightful place in the world is an intimate connection with Hashem. If we don’t belong to Hashem, Who are we returning to? If Hashem didn’t give us a mission to fulfill in this world, what are we returning to?

The special tefillos on Rosh HaShana open with the word “HaMelech, The King.” The shul is mostly quiet until the chazzan sings and proclaims loudly, “The King!” In the shul of the great tzaddik R’ Ahron of Karlin, there was once a great commotion at this point. The tzaddik fainted! Later, R’ Ahron shared what caused him to faint. He said, “I thought, ‘If Hashem is the King, where was I until now?!?’”


Hashem is our King and we are His People. In the depths of every Jewish heart, we are one with Hashem. Our work on Rosh Hashana is to access the place in our hearts where our bond with Hashem is our only driving force. We want to get past the layers of stuff that stand between us and Hashem: past our behaviors and habits, beyond what we did or didn’t do, deeper than any other perceptions and judgments that we have about ourselves. We want to get past all of that, to our core, to the depth of our souls.


And from that place of truth, we turn to Hashem and say: You are my King and I am Your daughter. And I want nothing but You. Please, reveal Yourself to the whole world, with the coming of Moshiach now.

That’s teshuva. It’s the mitzva of the day, so let’s do it with joy!

What does teshuva mean to you?

What inspires you about this mitzva?

How does teshuva and joy fit in the same sentence?


Question from our inbox:

For as long as I remember, I always thought I was worth as much as I could get done. Since I joined your classes, I am trying to change that perspective. I’m recognizing my true worth, the value of my G-dly soul, which is deeper than anything I do or don’t do. With Rosh Hashana coming soon, I’m reflecting on the year that has passed; I’m thinking about what I did right or didn’t do wrong. I feel my old judgments coming back. How can I value myself and feel sincere teshuva in the same breath?


Teshuva is one of the most misunderstood concepts. Many people think it means, “I was bad! Now I have to say I’m sorry and be good.” That’s not teshuva.

The word teshuva means return to Hashem. To return to Hashem, we must first recognize that our deep connection with Hashem is our starting point. It’s where we belong; it’s the place to which we must return.


We do teshuva not because we’re bad, but because we’re good – because we’re G-dly. Throughout the year, we forgot who we really are. We were unaware of Who we’re dependent on. We got distracted from what our life is really about.


The Baal HaTanya says there is no greater distance than when two beloved are standing with their backs towards each other. When we ignore Hashem or when we do things that contradict our inherent connection, we are turning our backs on Him. Teshuva means turning around to face Him once again.


With the understanding of what teshuva really is, it’s clear that we can only engage in the work of teshuva when we recognize that our rightful place in the world is an intimate connection with Hashem. If we don’t belong to Hashem, Who are we returning to? If Hashem didn’t give us a mission to fulfill in this world, what are we returning to?

The special tefillos on Rosh HaShana open with the word “HaMelech, The King.” The shul is mostly quiet until the chazzan sings and proclaims loudly, “The King!” In the shul of the great tzaddik R’ Ahron of Karlin, there was once a great commotion at this point. The tzaddik fainted! Later, R’ Ahron shared what caused him to faint. He said, “I thought, ‘If Hashem is the King, where was I until now?!?’”


Hashem is our King and we are His People. In the depths of every Jewish heart, we are one with Hashem. Our work on Rosh Hashana is to access the place in our hearts where our bond with Hashem is our only driving force. We want to get past the layers of stuff that stand between us and Hashem: past our behaviors and habits, beyond what we did or didn’t do, deeper than any other perceptions and judgments that we have about ourselves. We want to get past all of that, to our core, to the depth of our souls.

And from that place of truth, we turn to Hashem and say: You are my King and I am Your daughter. And I want nothing but You. Please, reveal Yourself to the whole world, with the coming of Moshiach now.

That’s teshuva. It’s the mitzva of the day, so let’s do it with joy!

What does teshuva mean to you?

What inspires you about this mitzva?

How does teshuva and joy fit in the same sentence?


Question from our inbox:

For as long as I remember, I always thought I was worth as much as I could get done. Since I joined your classes, I am trying to change that perspective. I’m recognizing my true worth, the value of my G-dly soul, which is deeper than anything I do or don’t do. With Rosh Hashana coming soon, I’m reflecting on the year that has passed; I’m thinking about what I did right or didn’t do wrong. I feel my old judgments coming back. How can I value myself and feel sincere teshuva in the same breath?


Teshuva is one of the most misunderstood concepts. Many people think it means, “I was bad! Now I have to say I’m sorry and be good.” That’s not teshuva.

The word teshuva means return to Hashem. To return to Hashem, we must first recognize that our deep connection with Hashem is our starting point. It’s where we belong; it’s the place to which we must return.


We do teshuva not because we’re bad, but because we’re good – because we’re G-dly. Throughout the year, we forgot who we really are. We were unaware of Who we’re dependent on. We got distracted from what our life is really about.

The Baal HaTanya says there is no greater distance than when two beloved are standing with their backs towards each other. When we ignore Hashem or when we do things that contradict our inherent connection, we are turning our backs on Him. Teshuva means turning around to face Him once again.


With the understanding of what teshuva really is, it’s clear that we can only engage in the work of teshuva when we recognize that our rightful place in the world is an intimate connection with Hashem. If we don’t belong to Hashem, Who are we returning to? If Hashem didn’t give us a mission to fulfill in this world, what are we returning to?

The special tefillos on Rosh HaShana open with the word “HaMelech, The King.” The shul is mostly quiet until the chazzan sings and proclaims loudly, “The King!” In the shul of the great tzaddik R’ Ahron of Karlin, there was once a great commotion at this point. The tzaddik fainted! Later, R’ Ahron shared what caused him to faint. He said, “I thought, ‘If Hashem is the King, where was I until now?!?’”


Hashem is our King and we are His People. In the depths of every Jewish heart, we are one with Hashem. Our work on Rosh Hashana is to access the place in our hearts where our bond with Hashem is our only driving force. We want to get past the layers of stuff that stand between us and Hashem: past our behaviors and habits, beyond what we did or didn’t do, deeper than any other perceptions and judgments that we have about ourselves. We want to get past all of that, to our core, to the depth of our souls.


And from that place of truth, we turn to Hashem and say: You are my King and I am Your daughter. And I want nothing but You. Please, reveal Yourself to the whole world, with the coming of Moshiach now.

That’s teshuva. It’s the mitzva of the day, so let’s do it with joy!

What does teshuva mean to you?

What inspires you about this mitzva?

How does teshuva and joy fit in the same sentence?


Question from our inbox:

For as long as I remember, I always thought I was worth as much as I could get done. Since I joined your classes, I am trying to change that perspective. I’m recognizing my true worth, the value of my G-dly soul, which is deeper than anything I do or don’t do. With Rosh Hashana coming soon, I’m reflecting on the year that has passed; I’m thinking about what I did right or didn’t do wrong. I feel my old judgments coming back. How can I value myself and feel sincere teshuva in the same breath?


Teshuva is one of the most misunderstood concepts. Many people think it means, “I was bad! Now I have to say I’m sorry and be good.” That’s not teshuva.

The word teshuva means return to Hashem. To return to Hashem, we must first recognize that our deep connection with Hashem is our starting point. It’s where we belong; it’s the place to which we must return.


We do teshuva not because we’re bad, but because we’re good – because we’re G-dly. Throughout the year, we forgot who we really are. We were unaware of Who we’re dependent on. We got distracted from what our life is really about.

The Baal HaTanya says there is no greater distance than when two beloved are standing with their backs towards each other. When we ignore Hashem or when we do things that contradict our inherent connection, we are turning our backs on Him. Teshuva means turning around to face Him once again.


With the understanding of what teshuva really is, it’s clear that we can only engage in the work of teshuva when we recognize that our rightful place in the world is an intimate connection with Hashem. If we don’t belong to Hashem, Who are we returning to? If Hashem didn’t give us a mission to fulfill in this world, what are we returning to?

The special tefillos on Rosh HaShana open with the word “HaMelech, The King.” The shul is mostly quiet until the chazzan sings and proclaims loudly, “The King!” In the shul of the great tzaddik R’ Ahron of Karlin, there was once a great commotion at this point. The tzaddik fainted! Later, R’ Ahron shared what caused him to faint. He said, “I thought, ‘If Hashem is the King, where was I until now?!?’”


Hashem is our King and we are His People. In the depths of every Jewish heart, we are one with Hashem. Our work on Rosh Hashana is to access the place in our hearts where our bond with Hashem is our only driving force. We want to get past the layers of stuff that stand between us and Hashem: past our behaviors and habits, beyond what we did or didn’t do, deeper than any other perceptions and judgments that we have about ourselves. We want to get past all of that, to our core, to the depth of our souls.


And from that place of truth, we turn to Hashem and say: You are my King and I am Your daughter. And I want nothing but You. Please, reveal Yourself to the whole world, with the coming of Moshiach now.


That’s teshuva. It’s the mitzva of the day, so let’s do it with joy!

What does teshuva mean to you?

What inspires you about this mitzva?

How does teshuva and joy fit in the same sentence?





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