Repentance - teshuvah in Hebrew - "is a central concept in Jewish religious literature," [Ehud Luz] writes, "and may be said to express the essence of the religious and ethical ideals of Judaism. Though this idea occurs, in different forms, in most religions, it has been extensively developed only by those monotheistic faiths that see the relationship between God and man as primarily ethical in nature and view God's ethical claim upon the individual as absolute. In Judaism, this relationship is conceived as a covenant between two partners, each of whom has a role to play in bringing the world to perfection. When man sins, he violates this covenant and ruptures normal relations between himself and God. Teshuvah is the process by which this break is mended and the covenant renewed. Since Judaism views man's devotion to God's teaching and commandments as the . means by which the covenant is to be realized, returning to God means a return to his teaching. There is a dialectic tension evident here, since teshuvah is at once both restorative and Utopian in character; it is an effort to return to an ancient model, an ideal state that is imagined to have existed in the past (before man sinned in the Garden of Eden), but also, simultaneously, an endeavor to reach a perfect future, radically different from any reality that now exists or has existed in the past (the messianic era). Every movement for religious renewal that has appeared within Judaism, from the very beginning of its history, may thus be defined as a movement of teshuvah." As for charity, two writers, David Hartman and Tzvi Marx, share their thoughts on the subject. Hartman is the world-famous writer, professor and religious leader. Marx, not surprisingly, is connected with the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. "The concept of tzedakah (charity)," write the scholars, "a word that is etymologically related to tzeaek (justice), involves a person's response to the needs of other human beings. According to the
A Treasure-Trove of Ideas and Wisdom Robert Leiter Jewish Exponent; Sep 10, 2009; 226, 25; Docstoc pg. 54 Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
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