Shlomo Ezagui

Five Steps to Reaching God.

We are now in the season of Teshuvah, which is generally translated as “repentance.” This is, however, an approximate translation of the Hebrew word. More precisely, the term “teshuvah” means “to return.” The big difference is that “repentance” is for someone who sinned against God, while “return” applies to everyone. Everyone can perform this very powerful commandment to return to a more pristine, original state of spirituality, Godliness, and purity of soul.

When it is placed in our bodies as it descended from God, the soul is by its very nature pure light and bliss, complete, bursting life energy. Over time, dust accumulates over this spark of light and darkness, and confusion, lethargy, questions, and weakness settle in.

We are searching, and God makes it easy for us during this season of the High Holidays to rediscover the light, the inner childlike joy, the faith and optimism that know no worries. Our sages tell us that our focus must not be on the darkness because, as the expression goes, “He who lies with dogs will get up with fleas.” If we think of all that is wrong, we remain attached and connected to only that.

To rediscover the light within, we must try to completely erase all conduct that is not Godlike from our minds, lives, and atmospheres. Every effort must be made that our minds and energies should be surrounded and immersed in the desired goal: love and fear of God and the awareness that everything is good and will be good because everything is God.

The great spiritual and Godly Rabbi Zushe of Anipoli asserted that he could not attain the lofty heights of such a teshuva; therefore, he broke down this journey into more manageable steps. For each letter of the Hebrew word teshuva (“to return to this pristine level of existence”) is the initial of another verse in the Bible:

Tamim: Be sincere with the Eternal, your God.

Shiviti: I have set God before me always.

V’ahavta: Love your fellow as yourself.

B’chol: In all your ways, know Him.

Hatznei: Walk discreetly (in modesty) with your God.

These give way to a five-step program for learning to love and fear God: These Five steps restore our connection with the Master of the Universe and the source of all blessings in our lives. 

Step 1:

Be sincere and whole-hearted with God. Put aside all the thinking and, once and for all, take the leap of faith. Give up all the questions and worries and put your life in His hands. Our minds are often the most significant impediments to real progress. Free yourself of the limitations of the mind. It is about time we surrender and yield to God’s plan wholeheartedly.

Step 2:

When someone finally realizes no one is self-made and God makes it rain when and where He desires, it is much easier to accept everything that transpires in our lives. Although we were often not consulted in its formation, there is a plan. With this in mind, we may cease to rebel and resist what is happening, and we can say with a whole heart, “This, too, is for good.”

Step 3:

The only way we can love everyone and overlook the superficial differences between people is to train our minds to sense what is beneath the surface, to appreciate that what we can see with our eyes is not what matters but what occurs internally that makes the difference. One must never judge another since they may be, in the eyes of God, on an even greater level than oneself.

Every person has a spark of God inside that is no less and no more important than another. We all have a role in the picture God is constantly drawing that no one else could ever fill. Knowing this allows us to respect everyone equally because everyone is as important as the next in the grand scheme.

Everyone is here to fulfill a purpose. It is not about the clothes or car a person owns; it is all about the integrated puzzle each of us makes perfect. I need you as much as you need me to make each other’s lives and the picture of this universe whole.

Step 4:

“In all your ways, know God.” To implement the steps above, there must be some concrete channeling of these concepts into our everyday lives so these spiritual perspectives reach deeper into our psyches and become one with who we are. Every time you do something, you must strive to connect the act with Godliness and spirituality.

If you were to make a blessing and thank God before and after eating, you would proclaim that you do not take your health or the food for granted. You would recognize God’s influence in your life every single moment. King David praises God for every breath because no one guarantees your next breath. When we train ourselves to know God and thank God for all the good in our lives, we integrate our faith into a real and physical dimension of our lives.

Whatever we are doing, if the commandments and desires of God guide it, we then “know God in all our ways.”

Step 5:

“Walk discreetly (in modesty) with your God.” Once I understand that God is everywhere and in everyone and that I connect all I do with God, I can smoothly transition to this step of being discreet and modest.

There is no one to show off to. On the contrary, when a person is arrogant and driven to impress others, he seeks far too much credit for himself instead of God. We demonstrate that our focus is adequately directed by acting modestly and discreetly. This aligns us with the awareness that all we have and are is to God’s credit and is done only for His sake.

Chapter 158

About the Author
Rabbi Shlomo Ezagui is an author and lecturer. "A Spiritual Soul Book" ( & "Maimonides Advice for the 21st Century" ( In 1987, Rabbi Ezagui opened the first Chabad Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, and the first Orthodox Synagogue on the island of Palm Beach, Florida.
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