Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato, The Knowing Heart p. 304
הרוצה לרפאות חלי רפואה שלמה צריך שישרש אחר הסבה, ואז יסור המסובב
For one who wishes to effect a complete cure for an illness must seek out its cause, after which he is in a position to remove the effect.
CAN'T WE JUST MOVE ON ALREADY?
תנו רבנן הגזלנין ומלוי ברבית שהחזירו אין מקבלין מהן והמקבל מהן אין רוח חכמים נוחה הימנו אמר רבי יוחנן בימי רבי נשנית משנה זו דתניא מעשה באדם אחד שבקש לעשות תשובה א"ל אשתו ריקה אם אתה עושה תשובה אפילו אבנט אינו שלך ונמנע ולא עשה תשובה באותה שעה אמרו הגזלנין ומלוי רביות שהחזירו אין מקבלין מהם והמקבל מהם אין רוח חכמים נוחה הימנו
מיתיבי הניח להם אביהם מעות של רבית אע"פ שהן יודעין שהן רבית אין חייבין להחזיר אינהו הוא דלא הא אביהם חייב להחזיר בדין הוא דאביהם נמי אינו חייב להחזיר והא דקתני בדידהו משום דקא בעי למתני סיפא הניח להם אביהם פרה וטלית וכל דבר המסויים חייבין להחזיר מפני כבוד אביהם תנא רישא נמי בדידהו ומפני כבוד אביהם חייבין להחזיר אקרי כאן (שמות כב, כז) ונשיא בעמך לא תאור בעושה מעשה עמך כדאמר רב פנחס בשעשה תשובה הכא נמי בשעשה תשובה אי עשה תשובה מאי בעי גביה איבעי ליה לאהדורי שלא הספיק להחזיר עד שמת
§ Having mentioned the ordinance instituted for the penitent, the Gemara discusses other details of this ordinance. The Sages taught in a baraita (Tosefta, Shevi’it 8:11): With regard to robbers or usurers that returned either the stolen item or the interest to the one from whom they took it, one should not accept it from them. And with regard to one who does accept it from them, the Sages are displeased with him, since by doing so he discourages those who wish to repent. Rabbi Yoḥanan says: This mishna, i.e., the statement of the Tosefta, was taught in the days of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, as it is taught in a baraita: There was an incident with regard to one man who desired to repent after having been a thief for many years. His wife said to him: Empty one [reika], if you repent you will have to return all the stolen items to their rightful owners, and even the belt that you are wearing is not yours, and he refrained and did not repent. At that time, the Sages said: With regard to robbers or usurers that returned either the stolen item or the interest to the one from whom they took it, one should not accept it from them. And concerning one who does accept it from them, the Sages are displeased with him.
The Gemara raises an objection from a baraita: With regard to children whose deceased father left them money paid as interest, although they know that it is interest, they are not obligated to return it. The Gemara infers: They, the children, are the ones that are not obligated to return it, but their father would have been obligated to return it, and his victims may accept his money. The Gemara responds: By right, the baraita should have taught that their father also would not have been obligated to return it. And the fact that the baraita teaches this halakha with regard to the children is because of the fact that the baraita wants to teach a halakha in the latter clause: If their deceased father left them a cow, or a garment, or any other specific item he had stolen or taken as interest, they are obligated to return it due to the honor of their father, so that the item not serve as a reminder to all that their father transgressed. Since this halakha needs to be stated specifically with regard to the children, the first clause of the baraita is also taught with regard to them. The Gemara asks: But is it true that due to the honor of their father they are obligated to return the item or money? I will read here the verse: “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people” (Exodus 22:27), from which the Sages inferred that the prohibition against cursing a ruler is in effect only with regard to a ruler that acts as a member of your people, i.e., in accordance with Torah law. One who curses a wicked ruler does not violate this prohibition. Similarly, if one’s father is wicked, the mitzva to honor him should not apply. Why would his children have to return items that he stole due to his honor? The Gemara responds: It is like that which Rav Pineḥas said concerning a different case: This is a case where he repented. Here too, it is a case where the father repented, and since he is no longer wicked, his children are obligated to honor him. The Gemara asks: If he repented, what was the stolen item or interest doing with him? He should have returned it while he was still alive. The Gemara responds: It is a case where he did not manage to return it before he died. Consequently, the children must return the items in order to uphold their father’s honor.
On Rosh Hashana, Challenge the Lives We Have Created
By DONNIEL HARTMAN
A thief's desire to complete his or her process of self-correction by making restitution is clearly understood and valued. The problem is that this standard may inhibit them from beginning the process. A lifetime of harm cannot be erased and as a result may lock us in our imperfections under the argument that one can never really begin again. "Fool, if you are going to make restitution, even the clothing which is on your back would not remain yours."
In response the rabbis teach that we have a responsibility towards each other to enable these new beginnings. A Jewish society is one where we make sure that reflection, self-criticism, self-evaluation, and the ability to accept new horizons and new ideas are things society fosters and encourages, even at a high cost. We are individually responsible not to merely refrain from hindering each other's growth, but that we must be willing to forgo what is rightfully ours in order to ensure that our fellow citizens will grow and change....
BURN IT DOWN
Netivot Shalom, Vol. 1 (Teshuvah b’Behinat Gerut)
A person wants to build a magnificent home on a rotten piece of land. If he doesn’t want to invest a lot of money and dig a foundation that is deep and solid, this building will never have a strong infrastructure. As a result, cracks will constantly form in the walls of the house. And time after time he will have to invest significant amounts of money into strengthening the building, even though he will never see any real benefit from these improvements, because there will only be new breaches revealed, and the whole house will stand in constant danger of collapsing. Eventually he will only have one option before him: he will need to have the courage to break down the entire structure of the house, and to dig foundations that are deep and strong, upon which he can truly build a strong house.
If a person enters, every year, into repairs and improvements on his spiritual home, but that home is not built upon a strong, solid foundation, all year long he will find breaches and cracks, and his spiritual home will stand on the verge of collapse. Only when he comes to find the courage and understanding to know that all of these repairs are not the solution to the problems of his existence, only when he digs deep foundations and uproots the corroded, rotten foundation, will he be able to build something of permanence.
RECKON, REPAIR, REIMAGINE
ועל המריש הגזול שבנאו: תנו רבנן גזל מריש ובנאו בבירה ב"ש אומרים מקעקע כל הבירה כולה ומחזיר מריש לבעליו וב"ה אומרים אין לו אלא דמי מריש בלבד משום תקנת השבין:
§ The mishna teaches that Rabbi Yoḥanan ben Gudgeda further testified about a stolen beam that was already built into a building and said that the injured party receives the value of the beam but not the beam itself. With regard to this, the Sages taught in a baraita (Tosefta, Bava Kamma 10:5): If one robbed another of a beam and built it into a building, Beit Shammai say: He must destroy the entire building and return the beam to its owners. And Beit Hillel say: The injured party receives only the value of the beam but not the beam itself, due to an ordinance instituted for the sake of the penitent. In order to encourage repentance, the Sages were lenient and required the robber to return only the value of the beam. The mishna was taught in accordance with the opinion of Beit Hillel.
משום תקנת השבין, שתיקנו כן כדי להקל על העבריינים לחזור בהם בתשובה. ומשנתנו כדברי בית הלל.
...instituted for the sake of the penitent: We decreed this in order to lighten the burden of the sinner, so that he will return in teshuvah. And the law is in accordance with Beit Hillel.
“We can’t recover from this history until we deal with it.” -Bryan Stevenson