- Repentance in Judaism
Repentance in Judaism known as teshuva (Hebrew תשובה, literally "return"), is the way of atoning for
According to Jewish practice, if someone commits a sin, a forbidden act, he can be forgiven for that sin if he performs "teshuva", which includes:
* confessing the sin;
* if the sin was committed against another person, asking that person's forgiveness;
* ceasing to commit the sin;
* regretting the sin;
* firmly resolving never to repeat the sin.
The first, third, fourth and fifth stages are "before God" and are the standard process of "teshuva", a matter to be dealt with between the sinner and God. But if someone has committed a crime against another person to achieve atonement he must first ask the wronged person for forgiveness, and make it up to them. For example, if one stole an object, the stolen item must be returned, or if one has pained someone else in any way, he must be placated. This is an integral part of the "teshuva".
Guides to the process of repentance in Judaism can be found throught the rabbinacal literature, see especially
Maimonides' "Rules of Repentance" in the Mishneh Torah.
High Holidaysare times that are especially conducive to "teshuva". Yom Kippur(the Day of Atonement) is a day of fasting during which judgement for the year is sealed. Therefore, Jews strive their hardest to make certain that they have performed "teshuva" before the end of the day.
Temple in Jerusalemwas active, a Jew was required to bring various sacrifices for certain types of sins. Although sacrifices were required, the most essential part was "teshuva", the person bringing the sacrifice would confesses his sins. Presently, with the Temple destroyed, atonement may nevertheless be granted by doing "teshuva".
Being or becoming a Jewish penitent (or returnee or
born again), is known as a Baal teshuva(Hebrew: בעל תשובה; for a woman: בעלת תשובה, "baalat teshuva"; plural: בעלי תשובה, "baalei teshuva") the Hebrew term referring to a person who has repented. "Baal teshuva" literally means "one who has repentance". The term has historically referred to a Jew who had not kept Jewish practices, and completed a process of introspection and thus returned to Judaismand morality. In Israel, another term is used, "hozer beteshuva" (חוזר בתשובה), literally "returning in repentance". Also, Jews who adopt religion later in life are known "baalei teshuva" or "hozerim beteshuva".
The end of sacrifices
With the Roman destruction of the
Second Templein Jerusalem, the Jewish practice of offering " korbanot" (animal sacrifices) ceased. Despite subsequent intermittent periods of small Jewish groups offering the traditional sacrifices on the Temple Mount, the practice effectively ended.
Jewish religious life was forced to undergo a significant evolution in response to this change; no longer could Judaism revolve round the Temple services. Instead, the destruction of the Temple spurred the development of Judaism in the direction of text study, prayer and further development of the Jewish practice. A range of responses is recorded in classical rabbinic literature, describing this shift in emphasis.
In a number of places the Babylonian Talmud emphasises that following Jewish practice, performing charitable deeds, praying, and studying Torah are greater than performing animal sacrifices and the former can be used to achieve atonement.
Yochanan ben Zakkaiwas walking with his disciple, Rabbi Yehoshua, near Jerusalem after the destruction of the Temple. Rabbi Y'hoshua looked at the Temple ruins and said "Alas for us!! The place that atoned for the sins of the people Israel lies in ruins!" Then Rabbi Yohannan ben Zakkai spoke to him these words of comfort: "Be not grieved, my son. There is another equally meritorious way of gaining ritual atonement, even though the Temple is destroyed. We can still gain ritual atonement through deeds of loving-kindness. For it is written 'Lovingkindness I desire, not sacrifice.'" (Hosea 6:6): MidrashAvot D'Rabbi Nathan 4:5
:Rabbi Elazar said: Doing righteous deeds of charity is greater than offering all of the sacrifices, as it is written: "Doing charity and justice is more desirable to the Lord than sacrifice" (Proverbs 21:3).:Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah 49
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