“And thou shalt bethink thyself among all the nations, whither the L-RD thy G-d hath driven thee, and shalt return unto the L-RD thy G-d, and hearken to His voice according to all that I command thee this day.”
– Deuteronomy 30:1-2, JPS 1917 Tanach
The call of teshuvah (repentance) is to return from our own errant ways, in order to embrace the ways of G-d. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the L-RD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9, JPS).
Therefore, when we acknowledge our own sense of spiritual poverty, we may aspire to a greater understanding through the word of G-d. For “man doth not live by bread alone, but by every thing that proceedeth out of the mouth of the L-RD doth man live” (Deuteronomy 8:3, JPS).
The phrase vahasheivosa el–l’vavecha (“then you will take it to your heart,” Deuteronomy 30:1) conveys the understanding, that an intellectual knowledge alone, concerning the importance of the service of G-d, is not enough; rather, it is necessary to bring this awareness into one’s heart – the seat of the emotions. As a result of this endeavor, teshuvah (repentance) will follow.
In the modern world, we are conditioned to believe that whatever choices we make in our lives, are more or less acceptable, as long as we are tolerant and considerate of others. While tolerance and consideration are important, without formulating guidelines of some sort for ourselves, we will continue to be without principles to rest our sense of morality upon.
Ultimately, adopting the values inculcated to us in the words of G-d, will bring a sense of consistent truths into our awareness, so that we may truly live in accordance with the designs of the Creator, Who only has our best interests in mind.