Teshuva Troubles

Why is teshuva so damn hard? Every time I try to repent for my fuckups, I still find myself dwelling on it later on. I can never let anything go. It’s my hamartia, for sure and for certain, as they say in Beverly Lewis’s Amish fiction novels. I feel like I’ve been carrying around this huge rock on my shoulders for twenty years, and I have no idea how to get rid of it. All my guilt, all my sorrow, it’s all still there. I feel like I’m drowning in a sea of sadness and guilt. Teshuva is about repenting and letting the crap go, but I don’t know why I can’t. It’s like in the Pirates of the Carribean movies when Elizabeth wears that damnable corset. To quote Titanic, “You can’t breathe. You can’t think. Least it’s not about anything but the pain.” Will I ever know what G-d wants from me? Am I ever to understand?  Sometimes I want to dive into a book and forget my troubles. But no matter how good the book is, I never can.


14 thoughts on “Teshuva Troubles

  1. Do you have a rabbi?

    If so, you should really tell him about this. Preferably before Yom Kippur. Because I, for one, am totally at a loss. Guilt is… Hard. And do you know what? Sometimes, it never goes away. Mine never did. Let me tell you a story. A while ago- how long ago exactly doesn’t matter- I decided I wanted to leave an abusive household. Life was no fun, I was lacking in emunah, I dreaded waking up, etcetera etcetera. Everyone around me (and by that I mean my extremely limited circle of accquaintances, because friends are apparently ossur) agreed. I was all set to start my new life. Then guilt hit me. Hard. Ever time I was almost, nearly, out of that dreadful place, it came back. It was crippling. At first, not so much. I thought I could brush it aside, live with it. But it got worse and worse until it destroyed my life. Guess which household I still live in because I could never shake off that guilt? That’s right.

    I believe you have to do something about it. What, though, I don’t know. Good luck and tzom kal xxxx


  2. Dear Samantha, first of all, it’s not for nothing that the ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are called the Days of Awe. It is perfectly natural to feel sad, anxious, and yes, guilty! You are not alone; there are a few millions of us all over the world right now feeling the same way, to a degree. The fast cleanses us of those feelings; therefore, as hard as it is to endure it, sometimes, it ultimately brings us to a catharsis and a renewal.
    Secondly, Teshuvah does not mean repentance (who told you that?); it means RETURN. Baal Teshuvah means a Master of Return (Mistress of Return doesn’t sound that good in English, does it?), which means YOU, Samantha, are in charge of your own return, at your own pace, and with your own stops along the way. The important thing is, then, to keep moving forward! Guilt is such a Jewish character trait that H-shem has given us Yom Kippur just for the purpose of getting rid of it! He, in His wisdom, knows that we are not perfect – He created us, after all! – so we are bound to be led astray by the Yetzer Hara into occasional screw-ups, sometimes very major ones. When you have a chance, look up the story of King Yerovoam ben Navod, Mr Screw-up of all times! Even he was given a chance to return.
    So take a deep breath and have an easy and meaningful fast!
    With all my love and best wishes,


      1. I am not insisting that you fast – I am not insisting on anything, ever! But what is your source for fasting being unhealthy? Many raw foodies routinely fast 2 – 3 days a week, many alternative health practitioners recommend more prolonged periods of fasting, Eastern medicine highly advocates it – they can’t be all wrong! Of course, one must be reasonably healthy to begin with, otherwise one is forbidden to fast.


      2. Right again, but fasting does not just mean not eating and drinking. That will for sure turn even a pretty cool cat like me into a grumpy cat! A healthy meal has to be eaten before, plenty of rest, plenty of fluids, etc. Most of all, not the body, but the mind must be ready for it. Don’t worry about it – if you can, you can, and if you “no can”, as the kids say, then you don’t. Be well, that’s the most important thing!


      3. The most common advice is to hydrate well (and eat well!) the day before. I am prone to migraines, so my way of dealing with fasts is to sleep most of the day. And again, the moment there is real discomfort, any Rabbi will tell you to eat.


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