Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer at Diaspora Yeshiva, is not only a popular speaker and teacher, but also a dynamic thinker and writer. A student of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Harav Gedalia Schorr, Rabbi Sprecher was granted smicha (rabbinical ordination) by Torah Vodaath Yeshiva. Prior to his current position, Rabbi Sprecher was a professor of Judaic studies at Touro College in New York. In addition to his duties at Diaspora Yeshiva, Rabbi Sprecher writes a regular column on various Judaic topics in the Jewish Press, and lectures regularly at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.
How Teshuva Re-JEW-vinates us
Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 11:20:04 PM
Number of views: 255

According to my Great-Great-Grandfather, Bnei Yisocher, the month before ELUL is called AV, because AV is the acronym for ELUL BA, which means, ready or not, ELUL is coming! Therefore, in this month of AV we already must begin to focus on the Teshuvah Process. So here goes.

The Zohar explains that the word TESHUVA is a compound of the words, TASHUV HEI, "returning the HEI". The HEI that the Zohar is referring to is the HEI of G-d's Name, YUD – KEI – VAV – KEI, known as the SHEM HAVAYA, which has two letters HEI.

The Zohar infers from the two HEIs of G-d's Name that the process of TESHUVA, "of returning the HEI", actually has two levels. There is the higher level of TESHUVA, called "TESHUVA ILAA", which is the process of returning the first HEI of G-d's Name. Then there is the lower level of TESHUVA, called "TESHUVA TATAA", which is the process of returning the second HEI of G-d's Name.

What's in a Name? A Name serves as a means for someone to relate to others. A name is how one presents himself to others. The two HEIs in G-d's Name represent two different ways in which G-d relates to our physical world.

The second HEI of G-d's Name represents G-d as He lowers and extends Himself to be King of the Universe. This HEI follows the letter VAV, a letter that is a straight line, symbolizing the drawing down of G-d's light from its lofty source into our physical world.

On this level G-d is our King, and He desires a loving relationship with us. G-d expects us to build on this relationship by fulfilling His Will, which is done through studying Torah and doing Mitzvot.

When we are lacking in our Torah and Mitzvot observance, we are rebelling against G-d's Kingship. The Baal Hatanya explains that TESHUVA TATAA is the return of the second HEI of G-d's Name, by recommitting to G-d's Kingship by being meticulous in our observance of His Torah. In view of the Baal Hatanya's explanation, it should be remembered that over the course of the year, our commitment to Torah and Mitzvot sometimes weakens, and we find ourselves rebelling against G-d.

The first HEI of G-d's Name represents a level of the Shechinah that is transcendent, spiritually higher than us and of all the physical creation. This HEI of G-d's Name follows the letter YUD – a letter that is just a point and unlike the VAV in G-d's Name does not extend all the way down. This symbolizes G-d as He is for Himself, unaffected by the created world.

There is an amazing verse in the Torah that tells us something incredible about the Jewish People. The verse says, "KI CHELEK HASHEM AMO", "For G-d is a portion of His people" (Devarim 32:9). This means that the source of the Jewish Soul according to the Baal HaTanya is at the ACTUAL level of G-d Himself, removed from the rest of creation. TESHUVA ILAA is returning the upper HEI of G-d's Name, meaning returning our soul to its Source.

How do we reconnect with the G-dly Source of our souls? When we study Torah and perform Mitzvot for the sake of fulfilling G-d's Will, then we are reconnecting to our Source.

This is how we return the higher HEI to the Name of G-d – becoming reunited
with G-d. When we connect to G-d on this level, we have plugged our souls back into their Source, and we have re-JEW-venated ourselves to achieve TESHUVA TATAA by accepting G-d as our personal King.

May we all have the ability to achieve a true, loving, and eternal relationship with G-d!

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