Updated: Jul 18
On Tanya for the 8th of Tammuz
The Tanya explains that there are three types of atonement, varying according to the different categories of transgression. If one violated a prohibitive commandment and repented, their repentance is tentative, and Yom Kippur atones. In this instance, repentance alone does not suffice to secure complete forgiveness; it only guarantees that they will not be punished until the arrival of Yom Kippur, at which time they are completely forgiven.
This teaching can be further illuminated by referencing classic Torah commentaries. For example, the Rambam (Maimonides) in his Mishneh Torah (Laws of Repentance 1:1) explains that repentance involves confessing one's sins before G-d and resolving not to repeat them. He writes that Yom Kippur is a time specifically designated for repentance and that it atones for those who repent.
Similarly, the Sefer HaChinuch (Book of Education, Commandment 364) explains that the purpose of Yom Kippur is to provide an opportunity for atonement and forgiveness. He writes that the observance of Yom Kippur involves confessing one's sins and seeking forgiveness from G-d.
From the perspective of the inner dimension of Torah, the concept of atonement can also be understood as a process of spiritual purification and elevation. Through repentance and the observance of Yom Kippur, one can cleanse their soul of the spiritual impurities caused by transgressions and draw closer to G-d.
The performance of positive and negative commandments is also understood in this context as a means of connecting with G-d and drawing down Divine light into the world. By fulfilling G-d's will through the observance of His commandments, one can elevate their soul and bring about spiritual transformation.
Thus, this teaching from the Daily Tanya about atonement and its connection to the performance of positive and negative commandments can be understood as a call to engage in a process of spiritual growth and transformation through repentance, the observance of Yom Kippur, and the fulfillment of G-d's commandments.