Teshuva: The Promise of Hope, By Rabbi Seth Grauer

As we approach Rosh Hashana and get ready to begin saying selichotI would like to explore a well-known Rambam and perhaps offer a possible insight into the Teshuva process.

The Rambam writes in Hilchot Teshuva, Perek 2 Halacha 2 that there are four stages within the Teshuva process:

  1. Azivat HaChetwhere a person decides to stop the sinning and cease from the aveira.
  2. Kabbalahwhere a person commits to not commit the aveira
  3. Charatawhere a person regrets the past.
  4. Viduiwhere a person actually verbalizes the sorrow and regret around the aveira.

What is particularly curious is that others, such as the Chovot Halevavot, also enumerate these same four steps in the teshuva process, but they reverse steps 2 and 3 and place regret before a commitment to not commit the aveiraagain. Their rational, which is in many ways intuitive, is that a person is generally motivated to decide to not sin again only if she or he truly regrets their sin. The reverse emphasizes this even more- if one doesn’t regret the sin, why would one commit to not violate it again?! First, we decide to stop sinning, we then regret the sin and only then we decide and promise to not commit the aveira again.

Why would the Rambam write that we should commit to stop the sin before regretting the fact that sinned?

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