first posted on September 15, 2010
In our last poll, we inquired:
Poll: The Hardest Part of Teshuva
The Rambam describes. in Hilchot Teshuva 1:1, four parts to the vidui process:
Your Responses (total 6)
Choice 1 - 00% (0) Choice 2 - 17% (1)
Choice 3 - 67% (4)
Choice 4 - 17% (1)
The results, in a certain way, are really not surprising. It can be expected that for most people, the commitment not to sin would be defined as the most difficult part of teshuva -- and for obvious reasons. The other two positive responses, though, may make us think.
A difficulty expressed in regard to remorse should not be dismissed so easily. Many, while practicing a more halachic lifestyle later in life, speak of their misdeeds in the past in an almost fond way. Rambam is informing us that it is not enough for one to simply state that it is time for the partying to be over and now it is time to settle down -- but, oh how fun these partying days were. Teshuva demands remorse and the regret that one ever did this partying.
A difficulty presented in regard to vidui, I actually find most interesting. It would seem to be just a simple statement -- why would that be so hard? Perhaps, the respondent was speaking in terms of mitzvot bein adam l'chaveiro and the difficulty in explaining to another that a sin was committed against this person. That indeed is most difficult -- but that is not really the vidui to which Rambam is referring. Yet, this vidui may still be most difficult for many -- as one often finds it challenging to actually articulate one's sin. A statement concretizes it, and this may be why this respondent found the vidui most difficult.
The key lesson of this poll, though, may be in the fact that no one responded that the recognition of sin was the most difficult part of teshuva. This, perhaps, should be contrasted to the two cases presented from the Tanach as the models of teshuva -- Yehuda and Dovid. Both did not recognize that they sinned and had to be informed, taught, about the reality of their misdeed -- Yehuda by Tamar and Dovid by Natan. Their teshuva was tied to their recognition. This may point to the fact that the most difficult, the hardest part of teshuva may be in the very recognition of sin. How can we do teshuva if we don't even know that teshuva is required? And what may be significant about the fact that no one chose this choice is the very fact that people do not even recognize this challenge and the fact that we may be doing something wrong without even knowing about it. The result is that teshuva must include a continuous look at ourselves and our thought processes and whether we may be accepting of certain perceptions that are really blocking us from seeing the real truth.