Rabbi Menachem ben Solomon Meiri on Teshuvah (Plus+)
Rabbi Menachem ben Solomon Meiri
(1249-1316) was a Provincial scholar and commentator of the Talmud. He summarized the teachings of his predecessors of the previous three centuries, especially the Rambam.
There are three parts to Teshuvah: 1.) Regret what has been done; 2.) Commit never to repeat; 3.) Orally describe the error committed.
Rambam, Laws of Teshuvah chapter 2:2
In the first part of his “Essay on Repentance” (“Hibbur Ha-Teshuvah”), the Me’iri describes the beliefs that allow for the existence and benefits of Teshuvah as beliefs belonging to one possessed of religion:
But my intention in this chapter is only to caution the sinner not to give up on teshuvah, whether by failing to believe in it or by fearing that it will not be accepted because of the multitude of his sins.
Both of those foreign and evil notions will lead their adherents to hold fast to their wickedness. For the belief in the benefits of teshuvah, as described by the rabbi, the guide of righteousness [i.e. Maimonides] in one of his chapters, is among the factors without which people possessed of religion cannot get along….
But by believing in the benefits of teshuvah and the damage caused by its absence, he will be strengthened in the true knowledge that Ha Shem, Ha Kadosh Baruch Hu, oversees our ways and has the power to punish us and cause us loss if we disobey and to do well by us if we serve; and one will then strive to mend one’s ways. (pp.22–23)
The Me’iri’s response against a talmudic expression of determinism that could impede teshuvah and prayer can be found in Beit Ha-Behirah Mo`ed Qatan:
“One should never keep oneself from acts of compassion or from prayer, and one should understand and know that prayer and acts of righteousness will affect one’s fate (mazal) and the array of consequences in all situations. And one should pay no heed to their statement [in the Talmud] that ‘the welfare of my children and my sustenance depend not on merit but on fate,’ for it the statement of an individual only, and the ways of religion can in no way tolerate for it”
According to Midrash Yalkut Shimoni Exodus, Pharaoh survived the Red Sea, and made his way to Nineveh, Assyria, where he became king—the same king who when hearing the prophet Jonah's message from Jonah foretelling Nineveh's destruction, encouraged all his subjects to repent in order to avert the divine decree.
In the Genesis Rabbah, after Abraham divorces sends Hagar into the wilderness she, sits by the well and cries to God: “See my shame!” Hagar’s demand for justice was accepted by God, who revealed God to Abraham after Sarah’s death and commanded him to take back Hagar-Keturah.