Selected Excerpts from Likkutei Torah
Explorations of Excerpts:
1. What are the three levels of Teshuvah?
2. What does a sin cause to the Sefiros and Divine name and how does Teshuvah rectify it?
3. Why are people called Baal Teshuvah, the husband of Teshuvah?
4. What determines the blemish caused by sin; the severity of the sin or the spiritual level of the sinner?
The three levels of Teshuvah:
Although in Sefarim only two levels of Teshuvah are normally discussed, Teshuvah Ilaah and Teshuvah Tatah, in truth there exists three levels of Teshuvah.
- Teshuvah for Sur Meira
- Teshuvah for Asei Tov
- Teshuvah that is not for sins but to accomplish complete nullification to Or Ein Sof.
Teshuvah of Sur Meira:
The 1st level of Teshuvah is called Teshuvah from “Sur Meira”. In this level of Teshuvah one repents to no longer transgress any commands in thought speech or action. This helps one re-feel the level of Elokeinu, the level of Mimalei Kol Almin that is within his soul.
Teshuvah of Aseh Tov:
The 2nd level of Teshuvah is Teshuvah of Aseh Tov. In this level of Teshuvah one pushes oneself and places intense effort to perform the positive commands. This helps draw down the level of Soveiv Kol Almin, the encompassing Divine light that garbs one’s soul.
Teshuvah that is not of sins:
The 3rd level of Teshuvah is Teshuvah of Torah and Mesiras Nefesh. In this level of Teshuvah one is to exert himself in Torah learning and in his yearning to cleave to G-d to the point that one is completely nullified to Him. This level of repentance relates to all Jews at all times, even to the completely righteous, as it does not relate to sin of any level. Every Jew, even a Tzaddik, needs to work on arousing a desire to return his soul to the Essence of G-d. The fulfillment of this level of Teshuvah affects that one be able to feel the level of Soveiv Kol Almin which had been drawn down through the second level of Teshuvah.
The stages in returning the letters to the Divine name:
When one sins he causes a blemish within the Divine name of the Tetragrammaton. The Divine name is made up of four letters; a Yud, a Hei, a Vav and a Hei. Each letter corresponds to a different Sefira in the world of Atzilus; the Yud is Chochmah, the Hei is Bina, the Vav is Chesed-Yesod, the last Hei is Malchus. Sin causes these letters and corresponding Sefiros to separate, and hence Teshuvah is necessary to reestablish unity within the Divine name. The two first levels of Teshuvah are called Teshuvah Tatah, the lower Teshuvah, as Teshuva Tatah incorporates two stages in the returning of the letters. The first stage is to remove the lower Hei from within the Kelipos. Sin causes the lower Hei of the Divine name to separate from it and descend into the evil created by the sin, hence giving nurture to the evil. The first level of Teshuvah of Sur Meira accomplishes the removal of the letter Hei from the Kelipos, although it does not yet reunite it with the remaining letters. The second stage of Teshuvah is to reestablish the unity of the letters and allow the letter Hei to once again receive Divine light from the letter Vav, which represents Z”A of Atzilus. This is accomplished through Teshuvah of Asei Tov. The third level of Teshuvah is Teshuvah Ilaa, the higher Teshuvah. Teshuvah Ilaah, similar to Teshuvah Tatah, also consists of two stages; to return the higher Hei to the Divine name, and to then have it receive Divine light from the adjacent letter Yud, which represents Chochmah. Now, although according to this there is really four levels of Teshuvah, nevertheless the two stages of returning the upper Hei is viewed as one level of Teshuvah, being that Chochmah [the Yud] and Binah [the returned Hei] never separate, and hence the returning of the Hei and having it then receive from the Yud is synonymous. Accordingly there are three levels of Teshuvah in the Sefiros:
- To return the lower Hei back to the Vav. [Corresponds to Teshuvah of Sur Mera]
- To draw down Elokus from the Vav to the lower Hei [Accomplished by Aseiy Tov]
- To return the upper Heiy back to the Yud. [Accomplished by 3rd level of Teshuvah]
The name Baal Teshuvah:
The term Baal Teshuvah means “the husband of Teshuvah” or “the owner of Teshuvah”. The Mikdash Melech on the Zohar explains that a person is called a Baal Teshuvah because he causes a drawing of light from Z”A to Malchus, and Malchus corresponds to Teshuvah. Hence it is found that one who does Teshuvah is considered the Baal, or the husband of Teshuvah which is Malchus, as he draws Divine light to Malchus/Teshuvah.
Teshuvah for not fulfilling positive command:
When one abstains from fulfilling a positive command, although he has not done an active sin which causes blemish in the Divine name, he has lost the opportunity to draw down the Divine light that could have been revealed through the Mitzvah that he did not fulfill. Regular Teshuvah of the lower level, Teshuvah Tatah, cannot fix this lack of accomplishment and hence cannot draw down this missing light. However Higher Teshuvah, Teshuvah Ilaah, has the ability to draw down the missing light.
The sins of Tzaddik:
The foreign thoughts of a Tzaddik cause greater blemish above than the worst of sins of the Am Haaretz.
 Likkuteiy Torah Balak pp. 145-149
 LT Balak Mah Tovu
 Maggid of Mezritch brought in Likkutei Torah Balak 74a