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Insights - Q&A on Redemption


The Zohar writes that Moshiach will cause the tzadikim to do Teshuvah. For what does a tzadik need to do Teshuvah?


This question is based on a misinterpretation of the word “Teshuvah,” commonly translated as “repentance,” or regret over sins. Literally, Teshuvah means return: to restore the soul to a state that it was in before.

When the soul descends to earth and becomes enclothed in a body, it falls to a degraded spiritual state compared to what it enjoyed in Heaven. Until now it was in its lofty place near G-d’s throne, basking in the radiance of the Divine, and suddenly it is cast down below, to live in a physical world that in all respects conceals and denies its Divine origin.

However, before the soul descends to earth it is promised that if it fulfills its mission, it will merit to reach an even higher spiritual level than before it descended to earth. Therefore, it can be concluded that the entire purpose of our service here on earth is Teshuvah; i.e., to return to Heaven, but reach an even higher level than before. Even a tzadik works his entire lifetime to restore his soul to the place from which it came, and from there to a still higher level.

However, Teshuvah itself has its limitations. Even the greatest tzadik can only reach a certain level, but not higher than that. The level that a soul can reach depends on its complete nullification before G-d. Even the greatest tzadik retains some small measure of ego and awareness of self, which prevents it from fully absorbing the highest Divine lights.

When Moshiach comes, the ego and self-awareness will be removed entirely. Under the leadership of Moshiach, the world will bask in the most sublime level of holiness that leaves no room for ego. This is the meaning of the statement in the Zohar, that Moshiach will cause the tzadikim to do Teshuvah. He will bring their souls to the ultimate level of unification with G-d, by eradicating the final lingering traces of ego.

(Zohar vol. 3, 153b. Sefer Maamarim 5711, p. 45)



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