Redemption and Teshuvah

My friend Neil Harris wrote over on his blog Modern Uberdox:

I pray that this Pesach brings an end to the exile of the self and a redemption of the person I was created to be.

On which I commented:

First reaction: Beautiful!

Second reaction: Woah, wait a second, how then is Pesach different than Yom Kippur? (not meant rhetorically)

I liked our answers to this question sufficiently to want them recorded here on my turf.

R’ Neil’s suggestion:

Teshuva is a return to the state of who we should be. I think geulah (redemption) is the actualization of the potential. It’s the difference… of wanting to serve Hashem and serving Hashem.

Which is powerful enough to warrant pausing here rather than rushing to my reply. I’ll wait.

Between the time I asked and the time I was able to revisit RNH’s blog, I played with the following:

Tishrei is (in the Zohar’s language) an is’arusa delesata (an awakening from below) — we awaken the qedushah, and Hashem responds. Nissan is an is’aru dele’eilah (from above) — Hashem offers us the qedushah, and it is for us to respond. This is why Tishrei is associated with Din (Divine Justice), as Hashem’s response is in measure to what we earned, whereas Nissan is unearned holiness, an expression of Rachamim (Divine Empathy).


Applying this idea…


Ge’ulah is being freed from those external challenges that are holding us back. Thus, Hashem can offer it to us without violating our free will. And so it happens in Nissan.


Teshuvah is freeing ourselves from our internal flaws. Something we must do for ourselves — a Tishrei awakening from below.

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  1. micha says:

    Welcome to the mutual admiration society. Now go get a nap before the seder!

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