Q. I’m a graduate from a religious girls school. During several years I took part in a group that would often talk about other companions and we often ended talking Lashon Hora. B’H, during the last months I was able to overcome my desire to belong to that group and actually was able to gain control on myself. I joined a group that deals with the Halachos of Lashon Hora and I’m proud of myself to be able to reach this coming Yom Kippur with the feeling of having done Teshuva.
However, I still have doubts in my mind if I actually did a complete Teshuva. Often in the past when I contemplated my sad situation, I realized that a lot of my desire to see the faults of others and speak about them, had to do with my personal feeling of haughtiness and arrogance and sadly I know that those feelings I have yet to conquer.
My question is at this very important time, when I daven to Hashem for all the Yeshuos needed in this coming year, have I really done proper Teshuva?
A. No doubt that as human beings all of our actions are governed by decisions made by our reasoning mind together with what we call the feelings of the heart.
Horav Shlomo Miller’s Shlit’a opinion is that a most important part of the Teshuva is the Tikun Hamiddos and fixing what caused and was the source of our mistakes. The Rov quoted from Rishonim, that the change we can accomplish in our Middos is what will bring the change in the Middos that Hashem will impart to us.
Horav Aharon Miller Shlit’a pointed out that feelings or ‘Middos,’ as we often also call them. can be very detrimental and damaging and they can be the cause and source of many faults and sins. Anger, lust, laziness, or haughtiness, just to mention a few of the long list, are indeed the reason and ground for the averos and mistakes we make. Yet, interestingly, as Baalei Mussar and Poskim point out, the feelings by themselves are often not sins, as they can and should be used for the right purposes and mitzvot.
The Rov therefore maintains, that although there is still a great effort needed to be made in accomplishing Tikun Hamidos or the proper fixing of one’s character, if one completely stopped committing the avera in question and does not talk anymore Lashon Hora’a, the mitzva of Teshuva itself was accomplished.
Rabbi A. Bartfeld as advised by Horav Shlomo Miller and Horav Aharon Miller Shlit’a