Return vs Settle

וְאָשוּב אֵלֶיךָ בִּתְשוּבָה שְלֵמָה

I will return to You completely. (Rabénu Bachya’s personal prayer)

Rabénu Bachya’s poetry doubles the use of the verb shuv — שוּב — which expresses the idea of both “return” and “settle” (shav). The Hebrew word t’shuva — תּשוּבה — is correctly interpreted as “repent”, but more precisely it means “return to a settled state”. Rabénu Bachya was medieval Jewry’s foremost ethicist. His ethical insight requires complete return; returning to G!d is one thing, returning completely another. How does one return completely? By returning also to people we affect: in the Image of G!d were they created…

וַיִּבְרָא אֱלֹהִים אֶת-הָאָדָם בְּצַלְמוֹ, בְּצֶלֶם אֱלֹהִים בָּרָא אֹתוֹ: זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה, בָּרָא אֹתָם