Kenneth Cohen

Always Room for Teshuva

This Shabbat is known as “Shabbat Shuva,” and is viewed by many as one of the most important Shabbats of the year. The Haftarah begins with the words, שובה ישראל, “Return Israel.” It is the Shabbat of repentance.

The Talmud has a strange dialogue between Hashem and Eliyahu Hanavi. The Prophet Elijah spoke with G-d and told Him that it was His fault that people sinned. If they were not constantly challenged by the יצר הרע, the Evil Inclination, they would never sin. Hashem agreed with this claim.

He said that it was for this reason that He gave us Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as a time to ask for forgiveness. We are to view this opportunity of Teshuva as a gift. No matter how far we have strayed, we can always return. It reminds me of an old commercial, “there’s always room for Jello.” Well, there’s always room for Teshuva.
It should give us comfort that there is a realization from Above, as to what are the obstacles that man must face.

A well known Chassidic Rebbe once said that had G-d placed Gehennem, Hell, before us, instead of the Yeitzer Hara, man would never sin.

We must also realize that our fate, and the fate of our loved ones, very much depends on our prayers and sincere repentance, during the coming days. May we all be inscribed for a happy and healthy New Year.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at