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Life Lessons with Judy Simon
Before making Aliyah to Israel, Tzvi Fishman was a Hollywood screenwriter. He has co-authored 4 books with Rabbi David Samson, based on the teachings of Rabbi Kook, Eretz Yisrael, Art of T'shuva, War and Peace, and Torat Eretz Yisrael.
For some time now, I have been struggling with an inner battle. A powerful force is impelling me to speak on the subject of t’shuva. All of my thoughts are concentrated on this. The greatest part of the Torah and life is devoted to the matter of t’shuva. All of the hopes of the individual and the community are founded upon it. T’shuva is a Divine commandment which is both the easiest, since the thought of t’shuva is considered t’shuva in itself (Kiddushin 49B), and on the other hand, it is the most difficult commandment, since its essence has not yet been fully revealed in the world and in life.
This is how Rabbi Kook begins his introduction to his book, “Orot HaT’shuva.” He continues: “I find myself constantly thinking and wanting to speak exclusively about t’shuva. Much has been written on the subject of t’shuva in the Torah, the Prophets, and in the writings of our Sages, but for our generation, the matters are still obscure and require clarification…. My inner essence compels me to speak about t’shuva. And yet I am taken aback by my thoughts. Am I worthy enough to speak about t’shuva? However, no shortcoming in the world can discourage me from fulfilling my inner claim. I am driven to speak about t’shuva….”
The new month of Elul is the month of t’shuva (penitence.) I had the good fortune of translating selections from Rabbi Kook’s “Lights on T’shuva” and of writing a reader-friendly commentary on the book with Rabbi David Samson, a longtime student of HaRav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, and one of Israel’s foremost educators. Rav Samson is veteran teacher at the Mercaz HaRav High School Yeshiva, and founder and director of 5 high schools for “youth at risk” in Israel. The book, which we called, “The Art of T’shuva,” may be one of the most important self-help books you can find, opening pathways to a new and more vibrant connection to G-d and to Torah, sure to fill your life with greater light and happiness. The commentary can now be ordered online at: https://www.createspace.com/3595479.
For those of you who can’t afford the ten odd bucks it costs, we have posted condensed sections of the book at www.jewishsexuality.com. There you will find a mini-library on t’shuva, including the writings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, and the Baal HaTanya’s famous “Letter of T’shuva,” condensed and explained. You’’ll also find Rebbe Nachman’s “Secret of Elul” and an online translation of the famous “Tikun HaKlali” confession. Sexual transgressions, knows as “Pigam HaBrit,” are among the most serious sins, and the jewishsexuality.com website has dozens of articles, written by our holiest Sages, on ways to rectify past errors and begin anew on a healthier, holier path. For people who are prone to Internet temptations, the site offers a free download pamphlet that Rabbi Shlomo Aviner highly recommends to every teenager, parent, adult, teacher and rabbi.
As Rabbi Kook writes:
“With each passing day, powered by the lofty light of t’shuva, the penitent’s feeling becomes more secure, clearer, more enlightened with the radiance of sharpened intellect, and more clarified according to the foundations of Torah. His demeanor becomes brighter, his anger subsides, the light of grace shines on him. He becomes filled with strength; his eyes are filled with a holy fire; his heart is completely immersed in springs of pleasure; holiness and purity envelop him. A boundless loves fills all of his spirit; his soul thirsts for G-d, and this very thirst satiates all of his being. The holy spirit rings before him like a bell, and he is informed that all of his willful transgressions, the known and the unknown, have been erased; that he has been reborn as a new being; that all of the world and all of Creation are reborn with him; that all of existence calls out in song, and that the joy of G-d infuses all. Great is t’shuva for it brings healing to the world, and even one individual who repents is forgiven, and the whole world is forgiven with him.”