Broadly defined, teshuvah is more than just repentance from sin; it is a spiritual reawakening, a desire to strengthen the connection between oneself and the sacred. The effectiveness of teshuvah is thus frequently a function of one's sense of distance from the sacred. The greater the distance, the greater the potential movement towards renewed connectedness. As one Jewish sage put it, A rope that is cut and retied is doubly strong at the point where it was severed.... All forms of teshuvah, however diverse and complex, have a common core: the belief that human beings have it in their power to effect inward change. Adin Steinsaltz, Teshuvah: A Guide for the Newly Observant Jew, trans. by Michael Swirsky, pp 3-4.
Simcha Bunim of Peshischa
Everyone must have two pockets, with a note in each pocket, so that he or she can reach into the one or the other, depending on the need. When feeling lowly and depressed, discouraged or disconsolate, one should reach into the right pocket, and, there, find the words: "For my sake was the world created." But when feeling high and mighty one should reach into the left pocket, and find the words: "I am but dust and ashes.
The Hebrew word cheit, often translated as "sin," is from a root meaning "to miss the mark," as in archery or stone-throwing. Many commentators have drawn important implications from the etymology of cheit: As with a stone thrower or archer, our intent is to aim true and to do the right thing; wrongdoing does not cause an ineradicable strain. With practice and attention, we can improve our aim and do better in the future.
A Chasidic tale vividly illustrates the danger of improper speech: A man went about the community telling malicious lies about the rabbi. Later, he realized the wrong he had done, and began to feel remorse. He went to the rabbi and begged his forgiveness, saying he would do anything he could to make amends. The rabbi told the man, "Take a feather pillow, cut it open, and scatter the feathers to the winds." The man thought this was a strange request, but it was a simple enough task, and he did it gladly. When he returned to tell the rabbi that he had done it, the rabbi said, "Now, go and gather the feathers. Because you can no more make amends for the damage your words have done than you can recollect the feathers."