Posted on | February 18, 2006 | By Mark Frankel | 18 Comments
A commentor recently asked how do we define a Baal Teshuva? In the Talmud it means someone who was observant, but went off of the path and returned. Today it usually means someone whose parents where not observant, but the child became observant. But why Baal? Is anybody truly a master of Teshuva?
This year before Rosh Hoshana I asked some people why they thought the term Baal (master) was used. The most satisfying answer I receive was that we are Baalei Teshuva because we are the masters of our own return to G-d. It was not the path we were on, but at some point we took control of our lives and our Teshuva and made the conscious decisions and efforts to get closer to Hashem.
It makes sense to retain that mastery. To keep on improving and realizing that our Teshuva is always in our hands regardless of the challenges we might face. We also need to widen the circle of Baalei Teshuva to include all those who are choosing to get closer to Hashem on the path set forth in the Torah and by our sages. Although each of us individually are own masters of Teshuva, working on this collectively makes our travels easier and sweeter.