How the Baal Shem Tov Taught Teshuvah*
said Rabbi Rivkin,**
he shuffled into our meeting
introduced us to the teaching
he brought down from the Baal Shem Tov.
Exodus 3:3, Rabbi R said, God speaks to Moses
the bush burning but unconsumed.
Moses turns away,
I will turn away now
and see about this bush
how it remains unconsumed.
Check the Rashi.
Rabbi Rivkin became Rashi
I will turn away from here
and approach There.
Now Rav Rivkin became the Baal Shem Tov
that’s teshuvah, he said.
Now I know teshuvah, I said,
process not performance
journey not destination
*Teshuvah – a transformative, days of awe preoccupation of inner life.
**On September 7, 1993, I was sitting sleepily at the Rabbinical Association meeting at the Brith Sholom Knesset Israel synagogue. The room was underground, though the walls were white, it was dark within. Rabbi Rivkin came in, gave us a short teaching that he brought down from the Baal Shem Tov, on teshuvah.
I didn’t know if it was day or night, whether I was awake or dreaming. The person sitting next to me said, if I had come into the world only to see hear these words, it would have been enough.