Teshuvah, Viddui & Reparations: Abolition as a spiritual practice

והא תניא שבעה דברים נבראו קודם שנברא העולם ואלו הן תורה ותשובה וגן עדן וגיהנם וכסא הכבוד ובית המקדש ושמו של משיח...

Wasn’t it taught: Seven phenomena were created before the world was created, and they are: Torah, and repentance, and the Garden of Eden, and Gehenna, and the Throne of Glory, and the Temple, and the name of Messiah...

Reflection Questions:

  1. Why these 7 things?
  2. What are the possible implications of Teshuva being created before the world was created?
  3. What would you add to this list of pre-creation creations?

(א) כָּל מִצְוֹת שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה בֵּין עֲשֵׂה בֵּין לֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה אִם עָבַר אָדָם עַל אַחַת מֵהֶן בֵּין בְּזָדוֹן בֵּין בִּשְׁגָגָה כְּשֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה תְּשׁוּבָה וְיָשׁוּב מֵחֶטְאוֹ חַיָּב לְהִתְוַדּוֹת לִפְנֵי הָאֵל בָּרוּךְ הוּא שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר ה ו) "אִישׁ אוֹ אִשָּׁה כִּי יַעֲשׂוּ" וְגוֹ' (במדבר ה ז) "וְהִתְוַדּוּ אֶת חַטָּאתָם אֲשֶׁר עָשׂוּ" זֶה וִדּוּי דְּבָרִים. וִדּוּי זֶה מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה.

All practices for joining with the ultimate reality of interconnectedness are contained within a body (lineage) of living Jewish teachings that shapes us and orients us towards action and restraint. When a person strays from one of these practices -- whether intentionally or unknowingly -- and does teshuvah and realigns after having missed the mark, they are obligated to articulate the ways they missed the mark with spacious presence, as it says “Any time a person misses any mark, it impacts their core self and it unsettles their spirit. Thus they must articulate with awareness the ways they missed the mark…” This articulation must be fully expressed through words language or action. This articulation is itself an active practice for joining with the ultimate reality of interconnectedness.

*Translation by Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari and Rabbi Benay Lappe

How does this understanding of Teshuvah impact our understanding of Abolition as a spiritual practice?