Messiah 101
Foundational Principles of Messiah
R' Richard Pustelniak
November 19, 2000

Repentance from Deeds that Lead to Death
Teshuvah, the Concept
Teshuvah, the Need
Teshuvah, the Purpose
Teshuvah, the Foundation
Teshuvah, the Process
The Levels of Teshuvah
Teshuvah, a Gift of G-d
Faith toward G-d
Doctrine of Ceremonial Immersions
Laying On of Hands
Resurrection of the Dead
Eternal Judgment

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Warning: The truths contained in this teaching are not for the faint of heart, or the lukewarm! You can be sure that haSatan (the adversary) will do all he can to keep you from understanding and applying the concepts and truths contained herein, but it is our prayer that every one who receives these notes will carefully consider and apply the contents to their lives.

VI. Repentance From Deeds That Lead to Death
bible icon...the foundation of repentance from deeds that lead to death (t'shuvah mima'asei mavet)... (Heb 6:1)
A. Biblical Terms
metanóias apó nékron ergón: literally meaning, "putting away," "putting an end to," or "turning away from, the working of or doing death"

metanóia: literally meaning "a change in thinking, judgment, or resolve."
  • Not just intellectual change, but when complete, results in changes in actions, attitudes, and perspective
  • Can mean 'later knowledge,' or 'subsequent emendation,' often with the sense of 'too late'
  • Can mean 'remorse' or 'regret' if dissatisfaction with previous mind-set exists, considering the pain it may have caused
teshuvá: literally meaning "to turn or return"
  • Turning back, after a falling away
  • Sometimes, simply turning from...
  • What is turned from is evil conduct, violence, idols, sin, etc.
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B. Teshuvah, the Concept

Like the Hebrew, teshuvah, the Greek, metanoia is a much more rich concept than the simple etymology of the word would suggest. To put it succinctly, teshuvah is a complete turning around, in thought, attitude, and action. A change of mind without a change in action is not truly a change of mind.

This does not mean merely a re-commitment to "good values" that are so abstract that they function only to make us feel good when we espouse them. Real teshuvah means determining in considerable detail exactly what we are going to do differently in our lives, taking into account the things that will likely throw us off or undermine our resolve.

Teshuvah does not necessarily have to be a turning from only bad, or evil, but from anything that gets between the individual and G-d. This can include traditions, religious systems (though they may espouse very moral and ethical values and lifestyles), even true ministries for HaShem (if they stand between one and HaShem, Himself).

The Jewish concept of teshuvah is more than a one-time decision. It is a process, a lifestyle, a renewed mind set, a freshened way of approaching life. The process known as teshuvah is actually closely akin to the Christian concept of sanctification:

bible iconThis I say, therefore, and testify in the L-rd, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of G-d, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Messiah, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Y'Shua: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to G-d, in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph 4:17-24)
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C. Teshuvah, the Need

The primary attribute of the Holy One, blessed be He, is that which is called holiness. This attribute comes from the Hebrew, kadosh (), which, at its most basic level, means separate. By extension to HaShem, the meaning is: "completely separate from that which makes impure, unclean, or incomplete." It is this attribute which is the wellspring of all of HaShem's other attributes. In fact, according to the prophets, this is the attribute which is being constantly proclaimed and extolled, in the presence of the Holy One:

bible iconIn the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the L-rd sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His {robe} filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy {is} the HaShem of hosts; the whole earth {is} full of His glory!" (Isa 6:1-3, NKJ)
bible icon{The} four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: "Holy, holy, holy, HaShem G-d Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!" (Rev 4:8, NKJ)

In the beginning, man was created completely perfect, and devoid of anything which lacked holiness. Our relationship with HaShem was open, free, and unhindered. However, when we, for the first time, allowed unholiness into our existence, by doing that which was contrary to His will, our relationship with Him underwent a radical change, as He warned us, and tried to spare us:

bible iconAnd the HaShem G-d commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (Gen 2:16,17)

The death He warned us about was the separation from our beloved G-d. And that death was immediate, and we knew it, as guilt and shame flooded in for the first time. And we became painfully aware that there was now something about us which needed to be covered up. We (in Adam) could no longer abide the light and presence of His awesome and perfect holiness, and we knew it:

bible iconThen HaShem G-d called to Adam and said to him, "Where {are} you?" So he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked (or exposed); and I hid myself." (Gen 3:9,10)

And we still know it:

bible iconSo I said: "Woe {is} me, for I am destroyed! Because I {am} a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, HaShem of hosts." (Isa 6:5)
When the Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple) stood in Jerusalem and bathed the world in divine daylight, no man with a residue of spiritual impurity (Tum'ah) could approach G-d until he had undergone a process of purification. That G-d is the source of life, and that sin (i.e., disconnection from the divine) is synonymous with death, was no mere conceptual truth, but a fact of life.

And if we choose to pretend it isn't so, our loving Creator reminds us, and warns us of the fact:

bible iconAnd he (Moses) said, "Show me Your glory."...But He said, "You cannot see My face (literally faces, or presence); for no man shall see Me, and live." And the HaShem said, "Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back (or afterglow); but My face (or presence) shall not be seen." (Exod 33:18-23)
bible iconBehold, HaShem's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your G-d; and your sins have hidden {His} face from you, so that He will not hear. (Isa 59:1,2)

If we choose to ignore His warning, that which is not holy (perfect, pure, and undefiled) is consumed by the inconceivable presence of pure holiness:

bible iconThen Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censor and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the HaShem, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the HaShem and devoured them, and they died before the HaShem. And Moses said to Aaron, "This is what the HaShem spoke, saying: 'By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified.'" (Lev 10:1-3)

What we inherited from our father Adam, was not his guilt, for his sin. But the inclination to sin, the yetser harah, which begins to express itself from birth (in selfishness, self-centeredness, deceit, etc.). Once we have sinned, ourselves, knowing right from wrong and choosing wrong, we then are definitely lacking in holiness.

While we live, we are sheltered, somewhat, from the purity of G-d's full presence. However, once we pass through the veil of death, we will enter into that presence of G-d, without limit. There, is where eternal death (separation) will ultimately take place...unless something is done about our lack of holiness. This is the essence of our study of the foundational principles of Messiah, for, this is His primary purpose for coming to us: to grant to us holiness and righteousness, which we cannot gain for ourselves. Which brings us back to the topic at hand: repentance.

bible icon"For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies," says the L-rd HaShem..."Therefore turn (t'shuvee, repent) and live!" (Ezek 18:32)
bible iconThe L-rd is not slack concerning {His} promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2Pet 3:9)
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D. Teshuvah, the Purpose

The results of sin are an increasing insensitivity to damage and ultimately, death. This can be illustrated in one of the methods used by Eskimos to deal with wolves which threaten their herds:

A razor-sharp, double-edged knife is repeatedly dipped into fresh blood, which is allowed to freeze on the blade. This process continues until the blade is rather thickly coated with frozen blood. Then the knife handle is packed into the snow, in an upright position, leaving the blade exposed. Wolves have a keen sense of smell, and soon the wolf is attracted to the fresh blood-sicle.

The first lick excites the wolf and it begins to lick with increasing zeal, meanwhile, the cold of the frozen treat is beginning to numb the tongue. Eventually, the licking will begin to expose the razor sharp blade, but by this time the tongue is well beyond feeling the pain as the blade begins to cut into it.

Now fresh, warm, blood is being released. Without the warning of the pain, the wolf is unaware that it is actually enjoying its own blood. Zeal increases, until, in the morning, the wolf is found...lying in the snow, with a red stain in the snow around its head.

Sin will try to convince one that all that is desired is a small area of the map, and the rest will be left alone. But, it will not be satisfied until the whole map is consumed:

bible iconIf you do what is right, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do what is right, sin crouches (like a lion in ambush) at the door. and its desire (to dominate and possess){is} for you, but you should master it. (Gen 4:7, Author's version)

Teshuvah is the means by which we reverse the process, and restore the sensitivity to damage, before the ultimate result, death, occurs. HaShem's ways are the best ways. He does not reveal His guidelines for life so He might have opportunity to smash us when we fail to live up to them. Rather, He gives them to us as gifts, so that we might have fullness of life:

bible iconTherefore know this day, and consider {it} in your heart, that the HaShem Himself {is} G-d in heaven above and on the earth beneath; {there is} no other. You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong {your} days in the land which the HaShem your G-d is giving you for all time. (Deut 4:39,40)
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E.Teshuvah, the Foundation

Teshuvah stands firmly on three legs. Without all three, it is not true teshuvah:

One becomes, or is made, aware of the fact, and recognizes that the current path one is not the correct one.
bible iconIf a member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the L-rd's commands, he is guilty. When he is made aware of the sin he committed, he must bring as his offering for the sin he committed...(Lev 4:27-28, NIV)
One comes to agreement with G-d, that the path is incorrect. This is not a simple admission, but a re-adjustment in attitude and perspective.
bible iconAnd it shall be, when he is guilty in any of these {matters,} that he shall confess that he has sinned in that {thing;} and he shall bring his trespass offering to the L-rd for his sin which he has committed... (Lev 5:5,6)
bible icon{But} if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers, with their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, and that they also have walked contrary to Me, and {that} I also have walked contrary to them and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if their uncircumcised hearts are humbled, and they accept their guilt, then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and My covenant with Isaac and My covenant with Abraham I will remember; I will remember the land. (Lev 26:40-42)
bible iconIf we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us {our} sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1Jn 1:9)
One actually changes the path, first in true intent of the heart, then in action. However, the response is still incomplete, until the underlying, motivating, thoughts are also changed.
bible iconLet the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the L-rd, and He will have mercy on him; and to our G-d, for He will abundantly pardon. (Isa 55:7)
bible iconKeep your heart with all diligence, for out of it {spring} the issues of life. (Prov 4:23)
bible iconBut those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies... (Matt 15:18, 19)

True and completed repentance is revealed when the opportunity to do the sin is present, and the repentant one doesn't do it. To repent without intent to stop sinning is not repentance.

Whoever confesses merely with words, but has not decided to stop sinning is like one who immerses oneself in a ritual bath still holding a (contaminating) reptile. The immersion will not be effective until the person who "confesses and forsakes sin shall gain compassion."
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F. Teshuvah, the Process

Often, sin acts as a snare, which one can be deeply trapped, because of many years of yielding. The intent is there, but the flesh is indeed weak. In such cases teshuvah may, of necessity, be more of a process. This is because breaking a stronghold, without divine intervention, cannot be accomplished in one easy step.

The sin cycle can be described as proceeding as follows:

  1. Temptation applies pressure
  2. One resists, but the pressure increases as the individual contemplates the sin
  3. The individual gives in and commits the sin (This has the added effect of increasing the pressure next time, making the sin harder to resist. Fires are not quenched by adding fuel to them).
  4. The pressure of temptation lifts, the individual returns to his senses, and either, despairs of ever succeeding, giving in fully to the sin for a time (in an attempt to get it out of the system), or engages in self-condemnation. Both actions are at a minimum a waste of valuable time in the process.
  5. The individual comes to a place of repentance, confesses, renounces, and asks forgiveness, promising: "Never again," and meaning it.
  6. Time passes and the process begins again...

Often, the repentant individual loses hope, because of the apparent lack of success, no matter how much effort is put forth. The lack of success is due mostly to the belief that the process can, or must, complete in one step. When actually, the process may take significant time. Hope is restored when one is able to gauge progress in the positive direction. Here is the key: moving the place of repentance sooner and sooner, until one-by-one, steps 4, 3 , then 2 drop out. Step 1 may never drop out, but success can be obtained when one is able to repent as soon as one recognizes that he is in the consideration phase, and performs step 5, immediately. Remember, it is not a sin to be tempted.

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G. The Levels of Teshuvah

The following levels of teshuvah are those suggested by the 14th century Jewish sage, Isaac Aboav (probably of Spain):

  1. Repentance is immediately after the sin. (Highest and best)
  2. One who has been enmired in sin for many days or years, but still repents while still young and in full possession of bodily faculties.
  3. Although one is still young, the opportunity for sin is no longer there. Or perhaps it is still there but one is embarrassed to pursue one's evil inclination.
  4. One who repents because of fear of troubles or of a divine decree.
  5. One who regrets one's sins after getting in lots of trouble. People may not accept this kind, but G-d does (like Manassah).
  6. Repentance in one's old age, when one is too feeble to be able to proceed along the path of sin.
  7. The person who never regretted what had been done, continues sinning even though it will prove fatal, and repents only when that person sees death approaching.
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H. Teshuvah, a Gift of G-d

Probably the most important concept to keep in mind, concerning the concept of teshuvah, is that it is a gift of G-d. He loves us to much to allow us to suffer, as slaves to our fleshly lusts and enslaving habits and sins. Even the desire to make teshuvah is a result of the working of the grace (overcoming power) of G-d in our lives. And that same grace, if received and yielded to, will result in freedom, and life.

bible iconAnd a servant of the L-rd must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if G-d perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and {that} they may come to their senses {and escape} the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to {do} his will. (2Tim 2:24-26, NKJ)

Remember, the commandments of G-d are not bondage, but freedom for those who study them and put them into practice in their lives.

It is written: "And the tablets were the work of G-d, and the writing was G-d's writing, engraved on the tablets." Read not "engraved" but "freedom"—for there is no free individual, except for he who occupies himself with Torah. (Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) 6:2)
1 Michael Lerner, Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healing and Transformation (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1994) p. 367
2 From Dreamworld, in Week in Review, Vol VIII No 14, December 13, 1996 (Vaad Hanochos Hatmimim, Brooklyn, New York). Based on an address by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Kislev 19, 5717 (November 23, 1956)
3 Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon (RAMBAM), from the Mishneh Torah (on Prov. 28:13)

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