The Power of Teshuvah – Day 36
Planning for Victory
Perfection is not a human trait. As King Solomon stated, “There is no man in the world who is a tzaddik who does only good and does not sin.” If a person seeks guidance and correctly analyzes his misdeed, that misdeed becomes a springboard for growth. If he hastily pastes a Band-Aid over the sin, it will only show its face again, perhaps in an even uglier fashion.
Life is a war against the yetzer hara, as King Solomon advises “With strategies he makes war.” In this war, above all others, success can come only with a thought-out plan of action. The enduring effect of teshuvah lies not in the depth of our regret or the strength of our commitment to abandon a sin, but in our future behaviors. I.e., will we actually refrain from repeating the sin?
To pass this test, we need an elevated level of awareness and preparation. Someone doing teshuvah is like someone who has recently recuperated from illness. Just as the recovering person has to take extra safeguards against a relapse, the person doing teshuvah must recognize his propensity to this particular sin and employ similar measures against the enticements of the Evil Inclination.
Someone who is serious about becoming a different person and is not just riding the wave of the initial enthusiasm will succeed in making his teshuvah last. One who wishes to be free of the sins that have clouded his relationship with God will challenge himself.
Ultimately, all efforts to change boil down to the question: Can I begin behaving in a new and improved way? Our success depends to a large degree on the strategies we employ. Our initial enthusiasm to do teshuvah will not suffice to bring us through the rough passes.
In the preceding days, we gained motivation to get started on the process of teshuvah. Now, we learn practical ways to ensure that our efforts make an enduring impact on our character and our lives.