- The great ease Hashem creates for us in doing teshuvah
- The purpose of life
- The root of all sin (stay on top of this and you're winning most of the battle!)
God's Great Generosity regarding Teshuvah
- The actual performance of the mitzvah
- The kavanah of the mitzvah, to understand and become learned in the secrets of the Torah, which Hashem hid from the other nations.
....it is not concealed from you, so you have no excuse to say that you didn't know that the Holy One Blessed Be He accepts the teshuvah of the sinners, for you knew the matter of teshuvah more than all the nations because "Yisrael and teshuvah preceded the world" [Pesachim 54a].
And if so, then when Hashem created teshuvah, you were also there.
And if the nations need prodding about teshuvah - like the people of Nineveh - behold, you don't need any prodding because the secret of teshuvah was revealed to you ever since that ancient time.
But, the Kli Yakar asks theoretically, what if you claim that your transgressions were of the type that chased away the Shechinah from the Lower World, causing it to go far up into the Heavenly Heights? The Kli Yakar poses the logic of despair:
...in that case, I will return to Him, but He won't return to me because I caused that distancing...
And I don't deserve a second chance.
But no, the Kli Yakar reassures us. Even from you - you, the one at fault - the matter of teshuvah is not concealed.
You don't need to ascend to Heaven, to Him the Blessed One because if you only readied your heart to return to Him the Blessed One, then He the Blessed One will come back and return to you to lower His Blessed Shechinah to you.
It all has to do with your heart.
What's in there?
And what do you really want?
Falling in Love with Hashem
In truth, they're interdependent because love of Hashem brings life and anyway, you don't request life for your own need, but to love Hashem.
Being in love with another person is highly romanticized in the world at large. It's often accompanied by a feeling of being high, of joy, of feeling like nothing in the world can go wrong or bring you down. It's hard not to start humming or to hold back the silly little smile that keeps trying to spread across your face.
But this is how we should feel about Hashem.
And it seems like the Kli Yakar, based on his own words, did achieve this.
It sounds pretty nice, doesn't it?
The Biggest Stumbling Block of Them All
With all the panic about guarding eyes, and avoiding bad influences, and so on, the root of it all seems to be something seemingly mundane.
When your heart turns to idleness and doesn't occupy itself all the days with the avodah of the Blessed God, then your end will be to be rejected, to be chased out in every which way from Hashem, and you'll bow down to other gods because idleness brings about boredom, which will turn your heart from Hashem. "I'm telling to you this day that you will surely perish, and that you will not live long days on the Land...." And it will be as Chazal said [Avot 3:5]: "He who turns his heart to idleness has forfeited his life."
Technology has freed us up in ways unimaginable a century ago.
Just as one of many examples: Getting breakfast ready no longer entails a walk to the well for water, heating up coals or chopping wood, grinding coffee by hand, or going out to the chicken coop to hunt down some eggs.
But what do we do with all this extra time? And despite this lightening of burdens, many people feel terribly stressed and busy.
People often feel they have less time, not more.
We've filled that technologically created vacuum with other things -- and not necessarily spiritual ones.
Technological advances have also placed increased expectations on us. You're expected to be available, to stay on top of things, to make it to remote locations if necessary, and to just plain know an incredible amount of information.
If there's any possible way to do something, and you can theoretically do it, then you are expected to do so.
But it's not necessarily meaningful or even truly essential. And it also leaves many gaps of idle time, like sitting in traffic, and waiting. Waiting for that call, waiting for that message, waiting for that email, waiting for that tweet, waiting for a reply, waiting for a person, waiting for the bus, waiting for the light to change....
Rabbi Avraham Twerski once mentioned that before microwaves, a baked potato took an hour in the oven. So you found something meaningful to immerse yourself in for an hour (in his case, he learned Torah). But now it takes minutes. So you find yourself waiting idly because it's hard to think of something meaningful to do in just, say, six minutes.
In some ways, we have time, but it's broken up into such short increments (not to mention all the distractions inherent in modern-day life) or else it's mixed with something that takes your attention just enough to kind of hold it, but doesn't allow you to do anything else useful, that the time becomes less useful and takes much greater discipline to deal with.
While the frum community's severest issue with the Internet is its easy and even unintentional access to unwholesome content, it has also been long observed that the Internet is like one long unending magazine that you can never stop reading.
For example, you can spend so much time looking for a good chicken-walnut recipe that you end up with no time to make it and order take-out instead. You can also spend forever checking your emails repeatedly, checking the news (in non-crisis situations), updating your Facebook page, texting and tweeting, and so on.
This includes seemingly educational videos, too: science, TED Talks, DIY, presidential debates, etc. Not ALWAYS, but it's wise to take a step back each time and ask if you really need it.
Maybe you do need a little of it.
Maybe you really do need one specific lesson given over in that video.
But maybe not?
And despite the businesslike usage of smartphones and other gadgets, they became yet another way to remain connected. It all feels very important at the time. But taking a step back, how much if it is really necessary? How much of it is just away to pass time? Some of it may be essential, but exactly how much? How much of it is to get that electromagnetic "hit" to which many people have become habituated?
I can't tell others what to do. I have my own issues to work on. And different people are on different levels with different needs. What works well for one is a disaster for another, and so on.
But it's good general advice to at least consider one's possibilities for those mindless empty minutes and to consider one's purpose for a moment before surfing or tapping on autopilot.
He served as rabbi and dayan and wrote several books, the most well-known being his commentary on the Chumash known as the Kli Yakar.
This is my own translation and any errors are also mine.
Most of the Hebrew verses and their translation are taken from this wonderful site: