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The Judaism of Tomorrow
My Rav Kook
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#50 Transforming Sin into a Source of Good through Teshuva
8Collections 1:240; Glimmerings of Penitence 9:5

When we are engaging in penitence,

we must define the nature of good and of evil most carefully,

so that our regret,

and the drastic shifting of our will from affirmation to negation,

affect only the evil, and not the good.

And we must go a step beyond [this first differentiation of good from evil]:

a person must sift out and recover1 the good [aspect of himself]

found in the depth of the evil [he did]

and reinforce it

with exactly the self-same energy we use to flee from the evil

so that his Teshuva becomes an active force for the good,

truly transforming all intentional wrongdoings into virtuous acts.2

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Footnotes

  1. Levarer, from b-r-r, whose meanings include to ‘examine, to select out, to leave homogeneous, to clarify.’ The activity of borer (a kind of work forbidden on Shabbat) might include picking a white thread off a dark suit, taking the seeds out of a piece of watermelon before eating it, mining a diamond from dirt. Back to text
  2. See Yoma 86b. The wrongdoings plus the repentance that follow them allow a person to discover and recover and invigorate positive aspects of himself he may not have otherwise met. See Glimmering #30, “Penitence Begins with Returning to Your True Self,” where true Teshuva is described as the ingathering of exiled aspects of our self. See also Glimmering #10, “Division and Univision,” for an explanation of the process. Back to text
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