Chapter 7ז׳
1 א

הוֹאִיל וּרְשׁוּת כָּל אָדָם נְתוּנָה לוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ יִשְׁתַּדֵּל אָדָם לַעֲשׂוֹת תְּשׁוּבָה וּלְהִתְוַדּוֹת בְּפִיו מֵחֲטָאָיו וְלִנְעֹר כַּפָּיו מֵחֲטָאָיו כְּדֵי שֶׁיָּמוּת וְהוּא בַּעַל תְּשׁוּבָה וְיִזְכֶּה לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא:

Because every man was endowed with self-will, as we have elucidated, it is meet that man shall strive to repent, to confess his sins by word of his mouth, and to dust off his hands from his sins, as a preparation for death after repentance, so that he may acquire life in the World to Come.

2 ב

לְעוֹלָם יִרְאֶה אָדָם עַצְמוֹ כְּאִלּוּ הוּא נוֹטֶה לָמוּת וְשֶׁמָּא יָמוּת בִּשְׁעָתוֹ וְנִמְצָא עוֹמֵד בְּחֶטְאוֹ. לְפִיכָךְ יָשׁוּב מֵחֲטָאָיו מִיָּד וְלֹא יֵאָמֵר כְּשֶׁאַזְקִין אָשׁוּב שֶׁמָּא יָמוּת טֶרֶם שֶׁיַּזְקִין. הוּא שֶׁשְּׁלֹמֹה אָמַר בְּחָכְמָתוֹ (קהלת ט ח) "בְּכָל עֵת יִהְיוּ בְגָדֶיךָ לְבָנִים":

Ever should man look upon himself as if he is nigh to death, lest he die during the interval, as a consequence whereof he will be outstanding in his sin; he should, therefore not tarry but repent presently. He should not say: "In old age I will repent", perhaps he will die before old age overtakes him. To this Solomon in his wisdom pointed, saying: "Let thy garments always be white". (Ecc. 9.8).1Pirke Abot, 2.15; Shabbat, 153a. C.

3 ג

אַל תֹּאמַר שֶׁאֵין תְּשׁוּבָה אֶלָּא מַעֲבִירוֹת שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהֶן מַעֲשֶׂה כְּגוֹן זְנוּת וְגֵזֶל וּגְנֵבָה. אֶלָּא כְּשֵׁם שֶׁצָּרִיךְ אָדָם לָשׁוּב מֵאֵלּוּ כָּךְ הוּא צָרִיךְ לְחַפֵּשׂ בְּדֵעוֹת רָעוֹת שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ וְלָשׁוּב מִן הַכַּעַס וּמִן הָאֵיבָה וּמִן הַקִּנְאָה וּמִן הַהִתּוּל וּמֵרְדִיפַת הַמָּמוֹן וְהַכָּבוֹד וּמֵרְדִיפַת הַמַּאֲכָלוֹת וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן מִן הַכּל צָרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר בִּתְשׁוּבָה. וְאֵלּוּ הָעֲוֹנוֹת קָשִׁים מֵאוֹתָן שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהֶן מַעֲשֶׂה שֶׁבִּזְמַן שֶׁאָדָם נִשְׁקָע בְּאֵלּוּ קָשֶׁה הוּא לִפְרשׁ מֵהֶם. וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר (ישעיה נה ז) "יַעֲזֹב רָשָׁע" וְגוֹ':

Do not say that no repentance is needed save on sins to which action is attached, for example: prostitution, robbery, or theft. For even as it is necessary for man to repent from such, so it is necessary for him to search his bad tendencies, to turn in repentance from anger, from hatred, from jealousy, from deceit, from pursuing after wealth, honor, feasting and such like these; yea, from all of these it is necessary for him to turn in repentance. Indeed these iniquities are more grievous and more difficult for a man to be separated from than those which require action, for on such the prophet Isaiah said: "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the man of iniquity his thoughts" (Is. 55.7).

4 ד

וְאַל יְדַמֶּה אָדָם בַּעַל תְּשׁוּבָה שֶׁהוּא מְרֻחָק מִמַּעֲלַת הַצַּדִּיקִים מִפְּנֵי הָעֲוֹנוֹת וְהַחֲטָאוֹת שֶׁעָשָׂה. אֵין הַדָּבָר כֵּן אֶלָּא אָהוּב וְנֶחְמָד הוּא לִפְנֵי הַבּוֹרֵא כְּאִלּוּ לֹא חָטָא מֵעוֹלָם. וְלֹא עוֹד אֶלָּא שֶׁשְּׂכָרוֹ הַרְבֵּה שֶׁהֲרֵי טָעַם טַעַם הַחֵטְא וּפֵרַשׁ מִמֶּנּוּ וְכָבַשׁ יִצְרוֹ. אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים מָקוֹם שֶׁבַּעֲלֵי תְּשׁוּבָה עוֹמְדִין אֵין צַדִּיקִים גְּמוּרִין יְכוֹלִין לַעֲמֹד בּוֹ. כְּלוֹמַר מַעֲלָתָן גְּדוֹלָה מִמַּעֲלַת אֵלּוּ שֶׁלֹּא חָטְאוּ מֵעוֹלָם מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֵן כּוֹבְשִׁים יִצְרָם יוֹתֵר מֵהֶם:

Let not a penitent man imagine that he is removed at a distance from the degree of the righteous on account of the iniquities and sins which he had committed. It is not so, forsooth, but the Creator considers him beloved and desirable, as if he had ever known of no sin. Moreover, his reward is great; for, after having partaken of the taste of sin, he separated himself therefrom and conquered his passion. The sages said: "The place whereon the penitent stand the wholly righteous could not stand;" as if saying: "their degree is above the degree of those who ever did not sin, because it is more difficult for them to dubdue their passion than for the others.2Berakot, 34b. C. G.

5 ה

כָּל הַנְּבִיאִים כֻּלָּן צִוּוּ עַל הַתְּשׁוּבָה וְאֵין יִשְׂרָאֵל נִגְאָלִין אֶלָּא בִּתְשׁוּבָה. וּכְבָר הִבְטִיחָה תּוֹרָה שֶׁסּוֹף יִשְׂרָאֵל לַעֲשׂוֹת תְּשׁוּבָה בְּסוֹף גָּלוּתָן וּמִיָּד הֵן נִגְאָלִין שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים ל א) "וְהָיָה כִי יָבֹאוּ עָלֶיךָ כָּל הַדְּבָרִים" וְגוֹ' (דברים ל ב) "וְשַׁבְתָּ עַד ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ" (דברים ל ג) "וְשָׁב ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ" וְגוֹ':

All of the prophets commanded concerning repentance; Israel will not be redeemed save by repentance. Indeed, the Torah long since assured us that in the end, at the close of the period of exile Israel will turn to repentance and be momentarily redeemed, even as it is said: "And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessings and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt bethink thyself among all the nations, whither the Lord thy God had driven thee, and shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and hearken to His voice according to all that I commanded thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul; that then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the peoples whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee" (Deut. 30.14).3Yoma, 87b. C. G.

6 ו

גְּדוֹלָה תְּשׁוּבָה שֶׁמְּקָרֶבֶת אֶת הָאָדָם לַשְּׁכִינָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (הושע יד ב) "שׁוּבָה יִשְׂרָאֵל עַד ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ". וְנֶאֱמַר (עמוס ד ו) "וְלֹא שַׁבְתֶּם עָדַי נְאֻם ה'. "וְנֶאֱמַר (ירמיה ד א) "אִם תָּשׁוּב יִשְׂרָאֵל נְאֻם ה' אֵלַי תָּשׁוּב". כְּלוֹמַר אִם תַּחֲזֹר בִּתְשׁוּבָה בִּי תִּדְבַּק. הַתְּשׁוּבָה מְקָרֶבֶת אֶת הָרְחוֹקִים. אֶמֶשׁ הָיָה זֶה שָׂנאוּי לִפְנֵי הַמָּקוֹם מְשֻׁקָּץ וּמְרֻחָק וְתוֹעֵבָה. וְהַיּוֹם הוּא אָהוּב וְנֶחְמָד קָרוֹב וְיָדִיד. וְכֵן אַתָּה מוֹצֵא שֶׁבְּלָשׁוֹן שֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מַרְחִיק הַחוֹטְאִים בָּהּ מְקָרֵב אֶת הַשָּׁבִים בֵּין יָחִיד בֵּין רַבִּים. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (הושע ב א) "וְהָיָה בִּמְקוֹם אֲשֶׁר יֵאָמֵר לָהֶם לֹא עַמִּי אַתֶּם יֵאָמֵר לָהֶם בְּנֵי אֵל חָי". וְנֶאֱמַר בִּיכָנְיָהוּ בְּרִשְׁעָתוֹ (כְּתֹב) [כִּתְבוּ] (ירמיה כב ל) "אֶת הָאִישׁ הַזֶּה עֲרִירִי גֶּבֶר לֹא יִצְלַח בְּיָמָיו", (ירמיה כב כד) "אִם יִהְיֶה כָּנְיָהוּ בֶּן יְהוֹיָקִים מֶלֶךְ יְהוּדָה חוֹתָם עַל יַד יְמִינִי" וְגוֹ'. וְכֵיוָן שֶׁשָּׁב בְּגָלוּתוֹ נֶאֱמַר בִּזְרֻבָּבֶל בְּנוֹ (חגי ב כג) "בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא נְאֻם ה' צְבָאוֹת אֶקָּחֲךָ זְרֻבָּבֶל בֶּן שְׁאַלְתִּיאֵל עַבְדִּי נְאֻם ה' וְשַׂמְתִּיךָ כַּחוֹתָם":

Great, indeed, is repentance for it brings man nigh to the Shekinah, even as it is said: "Return, O Israel, unto the Lord thy God" (Hosea, 14. 2); and it is further said: "Yet have ye not returned unto Me, saith the Lord" (Amos, 4.6); and it is yet again said: "If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the Lord, yea, return unto Me" (Jer. 4.1), as if saying: "If thou wilt turn in repentance ye will cleave unto Me". Repentance brings near the far apart. But yesterday this sinner was hateful to the presence of God, scorned, ostracized and abominate, and to-day he is beloved, desirable, companionable and a friend. Thou findest, moreover, that in the very language God employs to distance the sinners He employs to bring nigh unto Him the penitent whether the individual or the many, even as it is said: "And it shall come to pass that, instead of that which was said unto them, 'Ye are not My people', it shall be said unto them: 'Ye are the children of the living God'. And, again it is said of Jeconiah: "Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days, (Jer. 22.30) though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet upon My right hand yet would I pluck thee thence" (Ibid. – 24); but when he repented, being in exile, it is said of his son Zerubbabel: "In that day, saith the lord of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, My servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the Lord, and will make thee as a signet" (Haggai, 2.23).4Coniah, Jehoiachin, Joiachin, Jeconiah and Jeconiahi are all one and the same king, who in 11. Chr. 36.9 is said to have been eight years old when he ascended the throne of David, and reigned three years and ten days, and in Second Kings, 24.8, is said to have been eighteen years old, and reigned three years. He was the grandfather of Zerubbabel, and was a prisoner thirty-seven years. However, in First Chr. 3.19, it is said that Zerubbabel was the son of Pedaiah, brother of Shealtiel. Maimonides, evidently did not accept this version. G.

7 ז

כַּמָּה מְעֻלָּה מַעֲלַת הַתְּשׁוּבָה. אֶמֶשׁ הָיָה זֶה מֻבְדָּל מֵה' אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה נט ב) "עֲוֹנוֹתֵיכֶם הָיוּ מַבְדִּלִים בֵּינֵכֶם לְבֵין אֱלֹהֵיכֶם". צוֹעֵק וְאֵינוֹ נַעֲנֶה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה א טו) "כִּי תַרְבּוּ תְפִלָּה" וְגוֹ'. וְעוֹשֶׂה מִצְוֹת וְטוֹרְפִין אוֹתָן בְּפָנָיו שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה א יב) "מִי בִקֵּשׁ זֹאת מִיֶּדְכֶם רְמֹס חֲצֵרָי", (מלאכי א י) "מִי גַם בָּכֶם וְיִסְגֹּר דְּלָתַיִם" וְגוֹ'. וְהַיּוֹם הוּא מֻדְבָּק בַּשְּׁכִינָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים ד ד) "וְאַתֶּם הַדְּבֵקִים בַּה' אֱלֹהֵיכֶם". צוֹעֵק וְנַעֲנֶה מִיָּד שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה סה כד) "וְהָיָה טֶרֶם יִקְרָאוּ וַאֲנִי אֶעֱנֶה". וְעוֹשֶׂה מִצְוֹת וּמְקַבְּלִין אוֹתָן בְּנַחַת וְשִׂמְחָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (קהלת ט ז) "כִּי כְבָר רָצָה הָאֱלֹהִים אֶת מַעֲשֶׂיךָ". וְלֹא עוֹד אֶלָּא שֶׁמִּתְאַוִּים לָהֶם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (מלאכי ג ד) "וְעָרְבָה לַה' מִנְחַת יְהוּדָה וִירוּשָׁלםִ כִּימֵי עוֹלָם וּכְשָׁנִים קַדְמֹנִיּוֹת":

How superior is the degree of repentance! But yesterday was this sinner separated from the Lord God of Israel, even as it is said:" But your iniquities have separated between you and your God" (Is. 59.2); cries, but received no answer, even as it is said:" "Yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear" (Ibid. 1.15); does obey commandments, but they are thrown back in his face, even as it is said: "Who hath required this at your hand, to trample My courts"? (Ibid.–12), and, "Oh that there were even among you that would shut the doors, that ye might not kindle fire on Mine altar in vain!" (Mal. 1.10). But to-day he is connected with the Shekinah, even as it is said: "But ye that did cleave unto the Lord your God are alive every one of you this day" (Deut. 4.4); he cries and receives answer momentarily, even as it is said: "And it shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer" (Is. 65.24); he observes commandments, and they are received with pleasure and joy, even as it is said: "For God hath already accepted thy works" (Ecc. 9.7); moreover, his works are pleasurably anticipated, even as it is said: "Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in ancient years" (Mal. 3.4).

8 ח

בַּעֲלֵי תְּשׁוּבָה דַּרְכָּן לִהְיוֹת שְׁפָלִים וַעֲנָוִים בְּיוֹתֵר. אִם חֵרְפוּ אוֹתָן הַכְּסִילִים בְּמַעֲשֵׂיהֶם הָרִאשׁוֹנִים וְאָמְרוּ לָהֶן אֶמֶשׁ הָיִיתָ עוֹשֶׂה כָּךְ וְכָךְ וְאֶמֶשׁ הָיִיתָ אוֹמֵר כָּךְ וְכָךְ. אַל יַרְגִּישׁוּ לָהֶן אֶלָּא שׁוֹמְעִין וּשְׂמֵחִים וְיוֹדְעִין שֶׁזּוֹ זְכוּת לָהֶם. שֶׁכָּל זְמַן שֶׁהֵם בּוֹשִׁים מִמַּעֲשֵׂיהֶם שֶׁעָבְרוּ וְנִכְלָמִים מֵהֶן זְכוּתָם מְרֻבָּה וּמַעֲלָתָם מִתְגַּדֶּלֶת. וְחֵטְא גָּמוּר הוּא לוֹמַר לְבַעַל תְּשׁוּבָה זְכֹר מַעֲשֶׂיךָ הָרִאשׁוֹנִים אוֹ לְהַזְכִּירָן לְפָנָיו כְּדֵי לְבַיְּשׁוֹ. אוֹ לְהַזְכִּיר דְּבָרִים וְעִנְיָנִים הַדּוֹמִין לָהֶם כְּדֵי לְהַזְכִּירוֹ מֶה עָשָׂה. הַכּל אָסוּר וּמֻזְהָר עָלָיו בִּכְלַל הוֹנָיַת דְּבָרִים שֶׁהִזְהִירָה תּוֹרָה עָלֶיהָ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה יז) "וְלֹא תוֹנוּ אִישׁ אֶת עֲמִיתוֹ":

It is the custom of the penitent to be exceedingly lowly and humble. If fools insult them by reminding them of their former conduct, saying: "But yesterday you did thus and such; yesterday you said thus and such", it is best to have no feelings against them, for this very insult is meritorious for the penitent. Indeed, as long as they feel the shame of their past conduct, and the reproach thereof, their virtue increases and their degree grows. But it is, nevertheless, a grievous sin to say to the penitent: "Remember your erstwhile conduct", or to remind them in his presence so as to put him to shame, or to mention things and subjects similar to them so as to remind him of what he did. All such is forbidden, and comes under the general law of deceiving one with words, concerning which the Torah did give warning, even as it is said: "And ye shall not deceive one another" (Lev. 25.17).