Tanya/Iggeres Ha’Teshuvah - The Epistle on Repentance,Chapter 8, Class 4

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This state of unity and this return are called teshuvah ilaah, the higher level of repentance, that follows teshuvah tataah, the lower level of repentance.

וְהִנֵּה, בְּחִינַת יִחוּד זֶה וּתְשׁוּבָה זוֹ, הִיא בְּחִינַת תְּשׁוּבָה עִילָּאָה שֶׁלְּאַחַר תְּשׁוּבָה תַּתָּאָה,

The Zohar, in Raaya Mehemna (Parashat Nasso),9 explains that teshuvah ilaah means engaging in the study of the Torah in awe and love of the Holy One, blessed be He…,

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזּוֹהַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בְּרַעְיָא מְהֵימְנָא פָּרָשַׁת נָשֹׂא, דִּתְשׁוּבָה עִילָּאָה הִיא, דְּיִתְעַסֵּק בְּאוֹרַיְיתָא בִּדְחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ דְּקוּדְשָׁא־בְּרִיךְ־הוּא וְכוּ',

The Zohar goes on to say that doing so makes one worthy of the revelation of the letter vav of the Tetragrammaton,

for this [letter vav] is the child of yud-hey, or binah….

דְּאִיהוּ בֶּן י"ה – בִּינָה וְכוּ'

Binah is the level of teshuvah ilaah, the return of the higher letter hey of the Tetragrammaton. The word itself is a composite of the words “ben yud-hey.” This alludes to the spiritual emotions of love and fear (represented by the letter vav) that are born of the intellective levels of the Tetragrammaton, the yud of chochmah and the hey of binah.

(10Herein lies the superiority of penitents over the perfectly saintly.

(וּמַעֲלַת בַּעֲלֵי תְשׁוּבָה עַל צַדִּיקִים גְּמוּרִים בָּזֶה הִיא,

Seemingly, the study of the Torah permeated with love and fear of G‑d is not the unique prerogative of penitents; the perfectly saintly do this as well. Wherein lies the superiority of baalei teshuvah?

As the Zohar states in Parashat Chayei Sarah, “They draw upon themselves with a more intense longing of the heart, and with greater forcefulness, to approach the King….”11)

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּזּוֹהַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ פָּרָשַׁת חַיֵּי שָׂרָה, דְּאִינוּן מָשְׁכֵי עֲלַיְיהוּ בִּרְעוּתָא דְלִבָּא יַתִּיר וּבְחֵילָא סַגִּי לְאִתְקָרְבָא לְמַלְכָּא וְכוּ'):

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FOOTNOES

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9.Zohar III, 123a.

10. Parentheses are in the original text.

11.Zohar I, 129b.