Rabbi Yitzhak and Rabbi Yehuda were traveling from Usha to Lod. Rabbi Yehuda said, Let's discuss some Torah as we go. Rabbi Yehuda opened by saying: "If a man shall open a pit, or if a man shall dig a pit and not cover it (and an ox or donkey falls in it)." (Ex. 21:33) The following verse says: "The owner of the pit shall pay [money as] compensation..." [for the loss caused to the owner of the ox. Thus one who caused damaged inadvertently must pay compensation; even more so:] Therefore whoever harms the world with his sins should most certainly have to pay compensation for the damage he has caused. However, I am amazed. Since he himself caused harm to the universe, why does repentance help? As the verse says, "When a man or a woman shall commit any sin...then they shall confess their sins...and make restitution for it." (Num. 5:6) [This verse teaches that restitution is indeed possible.]
...when he repents, it is as if he creates a new, rectified reality.
[teshuvah from their sins] helps them because when he repents, it is as if he creates a new, rectified reality. He restored whatever he damaged Above [in Imma called teshuvah, for this level of bina consciousness is higher than the complete tzaddik, represented by the sefira of yesod. Teshuva is a remedy to fix all mistakes; when one blemishes Above, this sin causes removal of the flow of light from Above to below.] How can this flow of abundant light and blessing be restored? By repentance [which returns the flow of light], as it is written: "When a man or a woman shall commit any sin...then they shall confess their sins...and he shall make restitution." Repentance restores everything. It repairs Above and it repairs Below, restoring himself and restoring the whole universe.

Rabbi Yitzhak opened
saying, "When you are in distress, and all these things are come upon you at the end of days, [you should return to G‑d and listen to his voice."] (Deut. 4:30) "When you are in distress:" from here we see that best of all is repentance before judgment arises in the world, because once judgment has arrived, its power increases. Who will be able to remove it or make it go away? Once the judgment begins, it does not disappear until it is fulfilled. [Return before you are in distress in order to avoid the harsh turmoil at the end of days.]

Once judgment has been completed and a person has retuned to his soul roots by way of repentance this rectifies all the worlds
[that he has separated; the transfer of spiritual energy between the higher partzufim is renewed and realigned]. This is deduced from the writing: "And all these things are come upon you, in the latter days...if you turn to G‑d your Elokim...for G‑d your Elokim is a merciful G‑d".

Although G‑d has steeped the world in judgment, His desire is that Israel will repent...
"In the latter days"? What is the connection of this verse here? It is in order to include the Congregation of Israel
[the Shechinah] that is exiled, being with them to guard them in their distress and never leaving them [even though the enemies gain power against Israel below and also against her in the spiritual dimension]. Although G‑d has steeped the world in judgment, His desire is that Israel will repent [and fix their blemish through teshuvah and thus] to better their position in this world and in the world to come. There is [nothing] that can withstand repentance.

Come and see, that not only is the Congregation of Israel
[malchut] called repentance [but this is also the name of the higher teshuvabina]. You might say that the higher level of repentance is not found everywhere [but malchut is always found with Israel even during the time of judgment]. But malchut is called repentance when mercy returns to her, and she returns again to give spiritual sustenance to all her masses [through the power of the angels of the worlds of Beriyah Yetzirah and Asiya and through Israel who again receive nourishment from her; now she returns to give flow to all the worlds, and thus repentance is called in Hebrew teshuva/returning.]

The highest form of repentance is when the sinner gives up his life for it. It is received
[by malchut who receives his soul] during that time that he is in repentance. Then everything is restored above and below, and his soul and the universe are restored to their proper alignment.

How many others are hurt because of one wicked person in the world?!
[Sins arouse judgment, and the judgment is aroused even against those who could have been judged as righteous beforehand – but now the heightened harshness of the spiritual environment turns against them as well.] Woe to the wicked and woe to his neighbor!
Jonah had no wish to go on his Master's mission.
Come and see: Jonah had no wish to go on his Master's mission. How many people could have perished at sea because of him, until they all gathered about him to judge him to be thrown into the sea. When their judgment was carried and he was thrown overboard, they were
all saved and G‑d had mercy upon him as well. Afterwards, he saved a great many in the world [by causing the people of the city of Nineveh to repent]. When [did he gain the spiritual merit to cause a whole city to repent?] When he repented before his Master, in his distress [i.e. when he "died" after been thrown overboard and truly returned to G‑d]. This is what is meant by: "I cried to G‑d out of my distress, and He heard me" (Jonah 2:3) and: "Out of my distress I called upon G‑d: G‑d answered me with liberation." (Ps. 118:5) [Even though I called out to G‑d because of the great distress – even so I was spiritually renewed and my repentance was accepted.]

BeRahamim LeHayyim:
No one ever said that living the life of a Jew is easy. Besides the external pressures from the other nations, following the straight path has countless duties. The mitzvah of teshuvah we are all engaged in is far from simple, and its effects are far from simple. When we return a little, we affect the world a lot. When we fix a little, we repair a lot, both within and without.

The Zohar teaches that all sin is a bit of a disconnect. If we ignore G‑d, we are, as one could say, hanging up the phone call with Him, G‑d forbid. This disconnect means that the flow of beneficence from Above to below is not easily received.

Unlike those righteous who are always receiving their messages, those of us who return and re-connect our phone lines cause tremendous pleasure above. Hello long-lost friend! Long-time, no-see! For once we do teshuvah sheleimah/complete repentance, we are renewed. We are different people. Which is why the reward for teshuvah is so great. And most importantly: we would never have been given this command if it was beyond our abilities.

Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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