Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller gave a lecture series on it and Rebbetzin Esther Baila Schwartz called Netivot Shalom her "best friend," plus Rav Itamar Schwartz named it as one of his recommended mussar sefarim for women to learn.
I don't know how much I can get through it at this point, but I figured it would help me out during the 10 Days of Teshuvah between Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur.
And it has!
I haven't completed its section for these 10 Days of Teshuvah (called Bein Keseh L'Asor), but here is the little bit I've gotten out of it and found so helpful.
(It's mostly from Ma'amar 4, Shabbat Shuva is the Root of Teshuvah.)
First of all, Rosh Hashanah renewed us all.
We are totally new creations, the Universe is new, everything is new.
This is what enables you to do teshuvah right now and transform yourself deep within.
You literally are NOT the same "you" you were last year — which was only a few days ago.
You are different and NEW. So you can do different stuff than you did even just last week.
And with this new & improved you, we cruise into Yom Kippur.
The 2 Most Powerful Aspects of Shabbat
Shabbat can even forgive a Jew who "worshiped idols like the generation of Enosh."
How is that remotely possible?
Shabbat does 2 incredibly powerful things:
- Shabbat effects a deep-cleaning; it cleanses & rectifies your very neshamah.
- Shabbat is a day of love; you are the zivug of Hashem on Shabbat.
When you keep Shabbat, you are completely nullifying yourself to Hashem, which is what cleanses you from avodah zarah and other frightfully yucky stuff.
Netivot Shalom enthuses a lot about doing teshuvah on Shabbat.
But how can you really do teshuvah on Shabbat?
After all, thinking about your sins makes you depressed — a big no-no on Shabbat.
There is no vidui on Shabbat, and the sections of confession don't appear in the Shabbat Amidah.
It seems that Netivot Shalom mentions teshuvah as coming close to Hashem.
FEELING close to Hashem. Thinking about Him whenever you can on Shabbat.
If you imagine that Hashem is your zivug, like the most loving & cherishing spouse you could imagine, then you should speak & relate to Hashem in that way.
Go to Where Your Heart is
Ani yeshena v'libi er — I am asleep, and my heart is awake.
The mundane flawed you is the "I am asleep."
Shabbat is the "my heart is awake."
You might be asleep, so to speak, but Shabbat is your aroused heart; it's the neshamah that clings to Hashem.
Now, Shabbat Shuva (the Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur) is the most powerful Shabbat for neshamah-cleansing and deep-rooted teshuvah.
But hey, I missed it too because I didn't get to this part of the sefer before then.
Still, it's good to know that ALL Shabbatot produce this wonderful cleansing & forgiving effect.
As Netivot Shalom states:
The teshuvah of Shabbat is not teshuvah on sins and deeds.
Rather it is the Day of the Neshamah.
The teshuvah that you do on that day is regarding however you distanced from Hashem Yitbarach, and through Shabbat you can return until [the level of] "Hashem Elokecha."
But What If You're Just Not Feeling It?
It simply means that you haven't succeeded in completely rectifying your distance from Hashem.
You may have rectified some of it, but not completely.
So what should you do?
Take upon yourself this idea of Shabbat Kodesh.
As Netivot Shalom says:
And when a Jew does his cheshbon nefesh, when he already passed his days of teshuvah, the month of Elul and the 10 Days of Teshuvah and all the great days within that time.
And he is already about to enter the holy day of Yom Kippur...and he doesn't feel any change in himself at all, so much so that he finds himself about to enter Yom Kippur with empty hands.
The advice for him is that he should take himself to Shabbat Kodesh.
One moment from Shabbat is more important than many, many hours of the weekday.
Right now, you can think about Hashem or talk to Hashem as there is "no curtain" between you.
You can also think about how to improve your future Shabbatot.
Bringing Shabbat in a little earlier, adding a special food, setting some time aside to think about Hashem, to focus on that emotion of closeness & deveikut...
These are all ideas that effect powerful transformation at the soul level.
And if you haven't been keeping Shabbat?
Now is the time to decide to keep whatever you can throughout Shabbat, whatever you know about keeping Shabbat.
And try your best to get that feeling in there too, even if it's only for a moment.
Shabbat is all about the deepest, purest kind of love there is.
And that is exactly what rectifies your neshamah and brings the real you back to your soul-root.