Nishmat's Women’s Health and HalachaIn memory of Chaya Mirel bat R' Avraham

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Teshuva for previous lifestyle

9 March, 2005

Question:

Dear Yoetzet,
I was raised in a secular household in a small town without any religious Jews. I lived a lifestyle that I'm not proud of which included pre-marital sex with non-Jews, and drugs. I have been clean for quite some time now, and am leading a more religious life. Are there any practices or brachot that can make me more clean? I am dating someone who is religious, and I want him to know who I was, but I also want him to see that I have changed and repented. I also need it for myself. I know I am a good person now, but my terrible memories haunt me. I need to feel clean in the eyes of Hashem.
Thank you.


Answer:

Yashar koach on making such an impressive journey.

A classic Jewish act of repentance is the giving of tzedakah (charity) and the performing of chessed (good deeds).  Additionally, in your situation, we highly encourage developing a close relationship with a rabbi or female religious teacher.  He or she can help guide you to a lifestyle fully expressive of all the good within you.  You will also value his or her guidance in internalizing a positive view of sexuality, far removed from the terrible or haunting, consistent with an observant lifestyle. 

Although your memories cannot be erased, with time you can learn to transform them and give them meaning, by building on your wide array of experiences to help improve the world.


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