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We are now in the month of Virgo, the month leading up to the holiday of Rosh Hashanah. This month is commonly known to be a time in which one does teshuvah, or repentance, for all their negative actions throughout the year. However, Kabbalah views teshuvah as much more empowering than simply "repenting"; teshuvah is actually the process through which we take responsibility for every negative effect we have caused throughout the past year, recognize our mistakes, and through doing this, restore all the Light that we have lost. It is a process through which we look at where we have fallen, where we failed, and the things that we should make better.
Rav Berg always explained that the Hebrew word averah, which comes from the word "to give over," is mistakenly translated as "sin." People commonly think they are supposed to use this month, and the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, to repent for their “sins.” But Kabbalah teaches something very important: it is not that someone “sins,” but rather that when a person does an action of selfishness, he takes sparks of Light out of his soul and gives them over to the Negative Side. And through the process of teshuvah, we can get back those sparks of Light.
One of the tools we can use for teshuvah is to go back to specific actions of negativity and selfishness that we have done - remember the exact time, day, and place - and visualize that action occurring. See yourself do that action; and as you do, envision yourself taking sparks of Light from your soul and giving them over to the Negative Side. Because it is only when you have an appreciation for all you have given over that you can take it back. Doing this will give you the ability to both appreciate what you have done and the amount of sparks you have lost….which is what, in turn, gives you the ability to truly do teshuvah.
Our mistake, therefore, when we do teshuvah is that we don’t appreciate just how much Light we have given over. The truth is that we can only get back as much Light as we think we have lost. For example, let’s say you loaned somebody $100,000 a year ago, and this year you go to him to get repaid. But for some reason you think you only loaned him $100. So you ask him for that back, and he gives it to you, when in truth he owes you another $99,900. So you have just lost a lot of money, because you only got back what you asked for!
This is what happens in our process of teshuvah. We think we only did a small amount of negativity, and as a result, we are only getting back a small amount of Light. Whatever we say we gave over to the Negative Side is what the Creator will give back to us.
That’s why we have to start being honest with ourselves and looking at just how much Light we may have given over throughout the year in acts of negativity or selfishness. Take a good look, and say to yourself, “Oh no, wow, this is actually how many sparks of Light I gave over through that action.” Because we only can get back the amount of sparks that we think we have lost. If we only think we did a small negative thing, then we will only get back a small amount of sparks.
When we truly realize what we did was wrong and appreciate how much Light we did, in fact, give over in doing it, then it is like we have asked for all that Light back… and only then we can get it all back. But first we have to realize, and own, how much Light we lost from certain actions. That is why this tool is so important.
The reality is that none of us has true appreciation for our power to do good, which also means that neither do we have an appreciation for our power to do negative. One of the greatest stumbling blocks between ourselves and true teshuvah, therefore, is the fact that we do not appreciate our own power enough.
This month offers an incredible opportunity to take the time to look at things we wish we hadn’t done, at things that caused pain to ourselves and others, and through the process of teshuvah, restore all the Light we lost in doing them.
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