Instant Repentance

“Any man worth his salt will stick up for what he believes right, but it takes a slightly better man to acknowledge instantly and without reservation that he is in error.” -General Peyton C. March

We are a generation obsessed with instant gratification. Instant coffee, instant noodles, instant camera, instant messenger, instant relationships. If you can think of it, you can demand it and expect it, instantly.

In general, Judaism has a dim view of things occurring instantly. We teach our children to obey the commandments, so that when they are finally obligated to perform them years later, they are familiar with them. We believe in daily, weekly, yearly consistent service. We believe in hard work and perseverance that will lead you to goals and achievement.

However, there are at least two areas where Judaism believes that things can occur in an instant. The first is redemption. The prophets and the Rabbis have written extensively how redemption can come “in the blink of an eye.” In fact, we await the Messianic redemption every day, in whatever form it will eventually take.

The second and perhaps related “instant” phenomenon in Judaism is repentance.

In one of his parting speeches, Moses castigates the Children of Israel, as follows:

“For I know your rebellion, and your stiff neck; behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, you were rebellious against the Lord; and how much more after my death?” –Deuteronomy 31:27

The Ohr Hachayim picks up on the fact that Moses speaks of the rebelliousness of the Children of Israel of that very day as being in the past which is furthermore not consistent with the other tenses in the verse.

The Ohr Hachayim explains that Moses’ change of tense is purposeful and that his addressing their up-until-now rebelliousness as a thing of the past is an indication of Israel’s potentially immediate repentance.

The Ohr Hachayim further quotes the Talmud (Tractate Kiddushin 49b):

“Whoever marries a woman on condition that he is completely righteous, even though we know him to be completely bad, the marriage is binding as he may have repented during that instant.”

How’s that for instant results?

May we achieve repentance in any way and timeframe we can.

Shabbat Shalom and Gmar Chatima Tova,



To the entire Jewish people, as we stand in judgment during this period. May we thrive in the coming year and been given more opportunities to excel.

About the Author
Ben-Tzion Spitz is the former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay and a candidate for the Knesset for the Zehut party. He is the author of three books of Biblical Fiction and hundreds of articles and stories dealing with biblical themes. Ben-Tzion is a graduate of Yeshiva University and received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.