We’ve explained that for teshuvah to last, we must take ownership of the process. This begins by recognizing that we’re missing something, and that life is not the way we’d like it to be. We then make a conscious decision to change ourselves in the area of life/avodah (personal work/self-development) that we want to repair.
To choose teshuvah means to honestly consider the different options and their consequences and then firmly accept the path of teshuvah and any challenges that may arise along the way.
Now, let’s be honest: isn’t that a tough decision to make? Why would we be willing to take on the unknown?
The truth is that we take risks and invest in unknown outcomes all the time, but only when we deem them worthwhile.
The Sages (Bava Basra 78b) instruct us to make the cheshbono shel olam (accounting of the world) – weigh the cost of a mitzvah against its benefit and the benefit of an aveirah (sin) against its cost. Why the need for a “cost-benefit analysis” of each mitzvah or aveirah? Aren’t we supposed to perform the mitzvos simply because Hashem told us to?
The Sages understood that there’s more to our actions than just keeping mitzvos – there’s being responsible for mitzvos, and that we are willing to take responsibility for something only when we deem it worthwhile.
Being told something is worthwhile does not make it worthwhile. We must come to that recognition on our own. The Sages therefore didn’t just tell us that the benefit of a mitzvah is greater than its cost and that the cost of an aveirah is greater than its benefit.
Rather, they instructed us to take stock and weigh the pros and cons of each mitzvah and aveirahaccording to the way we see them. Because commitment and dedication come from within, not from without.
The same holds true when it comes to teshuvah. The key to taking responsibility for our teshuvahand accepting the unknowns along the way is feeling that it’s an endeavor worth pursuing. How to determine that it’s worth the potential costs? By making the same evaluation the Sages instruct us to make about each mitzvah or aveirah: is the benefit worth the cost, or not?
When we put all our cards on the table and come to a true awareness that the benefit of making the change outweighs the cost involved, we’ll be ready to move forward with confidence and certainty that we can achieve the change we desire.
After having identified an area of chisaron, a void in our lives that requires our attention, ponder the following:
- What are the pros and cons of continuing in this process?
- Why is this specific area of life/avodah so important to me? What about it speaks to me on a deep level? How do I see this change enhancing my life?
- What may I lose by making this shift in my life? What will I be giving up? How much effort will I need to exert in order to succeed?
- All in all, do I feel confident taking on this challenge?
Note: Don’t make a quick, shallow assessment of the situation. Take some time to be creative and delve deeper to identify the costs and benefits and to listen to your own deep intuition about the situation.
P.S.please email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your thoughts and experiences on this fourth step of the teshuvahprocess.