Is Teshuva a Mitzvah?
The Zohar records a conversation between
There are a number of verses in the Torah which seem to command doing teshuva. For example: “You shall return to the Lrd your
There are several explanation offered to explain Maimonides’ position. Before presenting one of them, let us first take a look at an episode from the Talmud. If a man says to a woman “Become betrothed to me on condition that I am a tzaddik, a righteous man”, the law is that even if he has been a consummately wicked person until that moment, she is betrothed to him. For it is possible that thoughts of repentance came to this person’s mind and he has mentally committed himself to change his evil ways.
From the above it is clear that repentance is dependent on one’s heart, not words. Since teshuva is not dependent on an action, Maimonides does not count it as a mitzvah. Confession, however, requires the movement of ones lips, making it an action. He thus counts the action of confessing one’s sins as the mitzvah. It is clear that confession without intent would not constitute a mitzvah. Rather, one must confess, combining this with regret for his wicked behavior and a resolve not to act in such a manner again.