Turning Our Whole Lives Over To Hashem
"One thing I've asked from Hashem, that I dwell in the house of Hashem all the days of my life..." -Psalm 27
"All the days of my life" doesn't mean from now until I go away from this world. It means from the day I was born until the day I pass away from this world.
What kind of request is this?! If I didn't sit in the beis medrash for the last twenty years, then how can I request from the Master of the Universe to dwell in the house of Hashem all the days of my life?
What is the request of "all the days of my life?"
The biggest disturbance for a person to do teshuva is one of two things.... either the past, or the future.
Reb Nachman Breslover says in Likkutei Moharan that the reason why עתּה(now) is a language of teshuva is because a person can't do teshuva if he thinks about the past or if he thinks about the future.
If a person thinks about the past and sees what he did in the past, and the evil inclination reminds him how his nights were spent, his past thoughts and actions, he thinks he can't do teshuva, the mountain is much too big.
He thinks he doesn't have any hope for the future.
And if a person is only twenty years old, and he has to accept upon himself fifty, sixty, and seventy years of being good, 'how can I take upon myself such a big job?!'
So עתּה (now) is a language of teshuva: The power of teshuva is only thinking about the present moment!!!
Don't worry about yesterday, don't worry about tomorrow, NOW do the Master of the Universe's will!
That's the power of teshuva.
How Does it Work?
How do we ask the Master of the Universe, "One thing I asked of Hashem...[all the days of my life? What happened in the past, happened!]"
It says further at the end of Psalm 27, "For there have risen against me false witnesses who breathe violence."
There's an incredible piece from the Chasam Sofer, and we have to be "believers, and the children of believers" in the words of the Chasam Sofer, and believe it with complete faith.
You'll come up to the Next World, and there'll come witnesses. The Sitra Achra, the Satan, the Angel of Death will come with two witnesses that you went on this and this night and did this and this sin, Heaven forbid. They'll come and testify that you did this sin.
Comes the Master of the Universe saying that the Yid did teshuva from love! He never went there, he went to the beis medrash that night! Because teshuva from love transforms sins into veritable merits! All the nights that you went and did something wrong suddenly became a trip to the beis medrash! It became a mitzva!
"For there have risen against me false witnesses"- says the holy Chasam Sofer, they'll say testimony you did a sin - but it's FALSE! Because you did teshuva.
If you do teshuva with truth, then indeed you "dwell in the house of Hashem all the days of your life." Even all the past (sinful) days became "dwelling in the house of Hashem."
And there's no problem for the future, because all you have to do is an emes'dike (truthful) teshuva from love to the Master of the Universe.
How Can I do Teshuva Me'Aahaava?
What does teshuva from love mean?
We look at teshuva me'ahava like something we cannot grasp.
As if it's beyond our capabilities.
You know what teshuva from love means?
The holy books explain what teshuva from love means - and every single one of us can do this teshuva - when a person commits sins, it holds him back from coming close to the Master of the Universe.
We all know that our sins make a barrier between us and the Master of the Universe.
Teshuva from love means that I want to get close to the Master of the Universe.
I want to have love of Hashem, love of the Master of the Universe. I can't, because the sins don't let me, so I want to do teshuva in order to get love of Hashem.
It doesn't mean teshuva because I have love of Hashem, it means teshuva because I want to become a lover of Hashem!
And I know that all this time I'm committing sins I can't be a lover of Hashem, because the sins don't let me have true love of Hashem.
So I want to do teshuva to become a lover of Hashem, in fulfillment of "you shall love Hashem your G-d with all your heart, soul and resources."
That's teshuva from love.
And if that's what brings a person to teshuva, which Yid doesn't want to cleave to the Master of the Universe?
Which Yid doesn't have the will to cleave unto Hashem?
Every Yid wants to be close to the Master of the Universe!
I don't mean by writing a bumper sticker: "We love Hashem."
By that we don't fulfill love of Hashem. That's not what love of Hashem means.
Love of Hashem means you REALLY want love of Hashem. And if you want to really have love of Hashem, you know that our lifestyle in this world prevents love of Hashem.
So a person does teshuva because he wants to become a lover of Hashem, that's how he merits: "One thing I have asked of Hashem". That's what you're asking for, "to dwell in the house of Hashem all my days!"
From the day I was born I can be a "dweller in the house of Hashem."
How? I'll do teshuva from love.
It turns over everything!
EVERYTHING becomes "dwelling in the house of Hashem."
Can you imagine what that means?
You know what the evil inclination tells us? We can't get there. It's impossible for us to do. You're a lost case anyway. You can't do teshuva.
It's not true, but that's what the evil inclination tells you.
The truth is, that the Master of the Universe holds forth His hand to accept penitents, making it so we could do teshuva, accepting our teshuva, taking our teshuva. We have the ability to completely change our lives!
The whole past becomes mitzvos! A gift from the Master of the Universe!
If you realize what it means, teshuva from love, your sins becoming veritable merits, believing it with complete faith, that every sin you did becomes a mitzva!
There was a Yid called Reb Chaim Dovid "Doctor". He was a big baal-teshuva.
If one reads history of the Austrian Empire, approximately 180-200 years ago, there was a big doctor of the army, he wrote prescriptions, they still have his prescriptions.
He became a baal-teshuva. Reb Dovid Lelover brought him close in teshuva.
At the end of his days, the holy Tiferes Shlomo (Rabbi Shlomo Rabinovich of Radomsk) went to pay him a sick visit.
The Tiferes Shlomo was standing by his bed, and Reb Chaim Dovid was sighing.
The Tiferes Shlomo wanted to comfort him: "Your earlier (pre-teshuva) years fall away," thinking the patient was sighing on the days he did sins and wasn't a frum Yid, employing language used by a nazirite to comfort him.
(The patient) gave a jump up in bed and said, "I don't give away one sin... because the sins became merits."
I heard from the holy Beis Yisroel (Rabbi Yisroel Alter of Gur), may the memory of the righteous and holy be for a blessing, it says in Parshas Ki-Seitzei, "You shall not reject an Edomite, for he is your brother" (Deut. 23:8), interpreting the word "Edomite" (a connotation of redness) to refer to one's past sins. Don't minimize them, you know why? For they are "your brother - כּי אחיך", an acronym for the verse in Isaiah 1:18: "אםיהיוחטאיכםכּשניםכּשלגילבּינו - If your sins are like scarlet they will become white as snow."
Your sins can come back to be white like snow! Can come to be mitzvos!
"Don't reject the Edomite (your sins), for it is your brother." ..."If your sins are like scarlet they will become white as snow."
That's the power of teshuva. The power of teshuva is to turn over over sin into a mitzva.
If a person believes that with complete faith, truthfully believing in the words of the Sages, that teshuva from love turns sins into veritable merits, who would give up such a chance?!
We all know what we did. We all know the sins that we have.
And we can suddenly take that and bring it back. We can make that all mitzvos, who wouldn't want to cash in on such a thing?!
When the government says, you can throw in your (guns?) and cash it in, everybody runs.
The Master of the Universe is telling you, "Give me your sins and I will give you back mitzvos!"
How can you give up such a gift from the Master of the Universe?
That's what we have to believe.
That's the teitch of "One thing I've asked from Hashem," with one teshuva from love, with one emes-dike (truthful) teshuva, I can thereby "dwell in the house of Hashem all the days of my life!"
The Panim Yafos (Rabbi Pinchas HaLevi Horowitz) explains the verse in Psalm 25, "Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellions; may You remember for me [the deeds] worthy of Your kindness, because of Your goodness, Hashem."
King David says not to remember the sins, because of Hashem's kindness. Says the Panim Yafos, on "Your kindness" - when it will be teshuva from love, then DO remember my sins. When I do teshuva from love, then I DO want You to remember my sins, because I want that the sins should become mitzvos.
That's what we have to remember.
We have to remember the power of teshuva from love.
That we have the ability to do teshuva from love.
Don't think it's just something for the level of tzaddikim.
In our generation the Master of the Universe accepts teshuva from love, meaning when we feel distant from Him and want to become close to him.
We all have the ability to do such a teshuva, so why don't we cash in?
The answer is that something is missing in our belief.
For some reason or another we don't believe that it can happen.
It's beyond our belief that all my sins can become mitzvos.
We have to talk about it and talk about it until we believe it!
That in truth, teshuva from love turns our sins into veritable merits!
That when we merit to do teshuva from love, we bring all the sins back and they become mitzvos, and we'll be able to go into the Day of Judgment with only mitzvos!