Every Individual Has the Opportunity to do Tshuva (Repent)

Parshat Nitzavim states, Devarim 30:11-12: “For this mitzvah which I command you today, it is not too hard for you neither is it far off- Lo BaShamayim Hi- It is not in Heaven…”


According to Ramban and Joseph Albo in Sefer HaIkkarim, the Mitzvah referred to here is the mitzvah of Tshuva- a mitzvah which is within each and every individual’s grasp.


Nechama Leibowitz points out that the process of Tshuva is a matter of free choice: It depends on a person’s resolution to return to the Divine source, however far a person has become alienated from it and however numerous the barriers that have grown up between the person and God.


The Rambam in Chapter 2, Section 2 of Hilchot Tshuva asks and then answers the following question:


What is repentance? It consists of this: that the sinner abandon his sin, remove it from his thoughts and resolve in his heart never to repeat it again…that he call God to witness that he will never return to his sin again…And he must confess in words, with his lips, and give voice to these matters which he has resolved in his heart.


In our Parsha 30:2-3 we see that as long as we get started in the Tshuva process, God will help us along: “And you will return unto Hashem your God and listen to his voice, according to everything that I command you today, you and your children with all of your heart and with all of your soul. Then Hashem your God will bring back your captivity and have mercy upon you…”


We are now in the month of Elul, the time to begin the Tshuva process. Now is the time to take the first step and examine our deeds. This Motzei Shabbat we begin to recite Slichot which is the next step in our preparation for Rosh HaShana. After Rosh HaShana is Shabbat Shuva, the Shabbat of Return and the culmination of the Tshuva process is on Yom Kippur.


This is the time for us to examine our deeds, see what needs to be changed, admit what we did wrong and work on making those changes. All we need to do is to get started by taking the first step and God will help us along. The process of Tshuva is not in Heaven, it is within our grasp!