Topic: Holidays & Time Zones | Posted:September 24, 2014
Rav Yehuda Ashlag explains that there is a concept called teshuvah me ahava, which is when a person does the process of spiritual correction from love. When we go through the process of spiritual correction with an awakening of love, not fear, even the worst actions that we would have done, or might have done, become Light.
As I was thinking about this Shabbat, called Shabbat Shuva, I realized that there is a new way to understand this concept of teshuvah me ahava; not as a love of the Creator, but as a love of the chaos, love of the darkness that we have created. From the elevated place that we are today after all the work we did and connections we made on Rosh Hashanah, we can look back at the negative actions we have done this year and realize that not only can we separate ourselves from the chaos that they might create, but we can also transform them.
Changing darkness into Light, bitterness into sweetness - this is the power of Shabbat Shuva. The power is not that we look back and are disappointed and depressed about some of the things that we might have done in the past, but that we actually love those negative actions, because today we appreciate their opportunity to become Light.
Only on Shabbat Shuva, the Shabbat after Rosh Hashanah, do we have the opportunity of teshuvah me ahava, where hopefully we are in a different place than we were before Rosh Hashanah, and can look back at ourselves and say that we actually love the negative action that we did a week ago, or six months ago, because we know now that we can transform that action into Light. We have no more feelings of negativity towards that action or towards ourselves, because we know that on Shabbat Shuva we can transform all that into Light.
This is a beautiful concept; we can love even our negative actions from last year, we can love even the negativity that we created, because on Shabbat Shuva we transform it into Light, and if we didn’t have these negative actions to transform, we would have less Light right now.
So part of the work of this Shabbat is to go back and fall in love with our negativity and with all of those actions that we did of a negative nature in the past, because we are in a different place now. We are happy that six months ago we became angry at another person, because on Shabbat Shuva we can take back all the energy that we invested in our negative actions and make it Light.
Teshuva me ahava means we now love all of those negative actions… don’t forget any of them! We no longer have any sadness, any depression, or any anger about those actions because that is not us anymore. But we can take that energy we created and make it Light.
Rav Ashlag says that when we go through the process of transformation out of love - love for ourselves - now that we are in a different place, even the most negative actions become Light. The amazing thing is that if we don’t go back to who we were before Rosh Hashanah, there cannot be any chaos in our lives, because all that negativity was created by a different person. If you truly remain elevated, and I understand that it’s going to be difficult for most of us, but to the degree that we remain elevated and different, none of that chaos that we have previously created can touch us.