The Netziv on Teshuva

The Netziv, in Ha'amek Davar (end of parshas Shelach), comments on the pasuk in Koheles (11:9), Follow the path of your heart: There are different paths in the service of Hashem.  Some people put their main efforts into Torah study, some into tefillah and others into chesed.  In Torah study itself, there are different paths.  Some find fulfillment in the hair-splitting Talmudic intricacies of lomdus, some in practical halacha, and others in mussar and hashkafah.  Even in mitzvah observance, there are different paths.  While a person must do all the mitzvos of the Torah, some people feel an affinity towards certain mitzvos of the Torah, some people feel an affinity towards certain mitzvos while some others place greater stress on different ones (see Talmud Shabbos 118b).  If a person wants to know which path in life he should take, the answer is, follow the path of your heart.  Every person has an inborn nature which directs him to specific areas of Divine service.  It is this path that he should pursue.  (Obviously, in making this determination, one must seek proper Torah guidance.)

The remarks of the Netziv can be extended to provide an approach to teshuvah.  One's first thrust when doing teshuvah should be to improve in the spheres to which he feels a natural affinity.  If his natural affinity is towards Torah study, his teshuvah should be to devote himself to improving the quality and quantity of his learning.  The same is true of one who has an affinity to tefillah or chesed.

Once a person's teshuvah succeeds in matters that are near to you, in your mouth and your heart to perform it, he can take the  next step.  The mishnah in Pirkei Avos (4:2) says "one mitzvah leads to another mitzvah." A man comes to shul to daven Mincha.  During the tefillah, he gives tzedakah to a poor perosn.  After Mincha, he participates in a mishnayos shiur until it is time to daven Maariv.  Thus, the mitzvah of tefillah led him to tzedakah and to Torah study.

Source: Sefer Darchei Noam Al HaTorah, by R' Sholom Smith, based on the teachings of HaRav Avraham  Pam, zt"l


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