Toward the end of the Torah reading this Shabbat morning, Moshe rebukes the people of Israel for their propensity to engage in idol worship. Similarly, Joshua reprimands them before he dies, warning them not to worship idols. Both leaders are well aware that without proper direction and guidance, the Hebrews are bound to falter constantly and fail in their religious mission to be the people of G-d.
In essence, the failure of these people to undergo a process of teshuva, or repentance, is indicative of the fact that they are unwilling to undergo any type of lifestyle change. Though at the end of the book of Joshua, the people of Israel assure him that they will not lead lives of idol worship, Joshua dismisses these claims even if they were sincere.
Sincerity and contrition are only stop gap measures in the process of teshuva. One must undergo a complete change in order to effectuate a successful pathway of repentance. Otherwise, the tendency to sin again and again becomes part of a vicious cycle coupled with a seemingly weak process of repentance.
The successful penitent is one who not only expresses remorse and regret and who resolves not to commit the same offence again. This individual must undergo a complete metamorphosis, in other words, a change of personality, to be successful in his quest for self-purification.
We will be examining this phenomenon more in depth in our Shabbat Shuvah Derasha this coming Shabbat at 5:00 PM. Our topic will be: Teshuva as Transformational: as envisioned by our prophets and scholars.