Baal Teshuva
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Baal Teshuva

In Judaism, a ba'al teshuvah (Hebrew: ‎; for a woman, ? ‎, baalat teshuva or baalas teshuva; plural, ? ‎, baalei teshuva, "master of return [to God]") is a Jew from a secular background who becomes religiously observant.

Originally, the term referred to a Jew who transgressed the halakhah (Jewish law) knowingly or unknowingly and completed a process of introspection to "return" to the full observance of God's mitzvot. (Baal teshuvah literally means in Hebrew "master of return" i.e., one who has "returned" to God.[1]) According to the Mishneh Torah of Maimonides, the Talmud says that a true ba'al teshuvah stands higher in shamayim (lit. "heaven") than a "frum from birth", even higher than a tzadik:[2]

The sages said: "The place whereon the penitent stand the wholly righteous could not stand;" as if saying: "their degree is above the degree of those who ever did not sin, because it is more difficult for them to subdue their passion than for the others.[3]

In contemporary times, the phrase is primarily used to refer to a Jew from a secular background who becomes religiously observant (normally in an Orthodox fashion) later in life. The alternative term, chozer b'teshuvah (? ‎), plural chozrim b'teshuvah, is more commonly used in Israel.[4]

See also

References

  1. ^ "What Is A Ba'al Teshuvah?". myjewishlearning.com.
  2. ^ Rabbi Aaron L. Raskin. "Tzaddik -- The Baal Teshuvah". Chabad.org.
  3. ^ "Laws of Repentance 7:4, citing Berakot, 34b. C. G." Mishneh Torah.
  4. ^ Dana Kessler (11 December 2018). "'Baal Teshuvah': The Next Generation". Tablet (magazine).

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