According to Jewish practice, if someone commits a sin, a forbidden act, he can be forgiven for that sin if he performs teshuva, which includes:
The first, third, fourth and fifth stages are "before God" and are the standard process of teshuva, a matter to be dealt with between the sinner and God. But if someone has committed a crime against another person to achieve atonement he must first ask the wronged person for forgiveness, and make it up to them. For example, if one stole an object, the stolen item must be returned, or if one has pained someone else in any way, he must be placated. This is an integral part of the teshuva.
The High Holidays are times that are especially conducive to teshuva. Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) is a day of fasting during which judgement for the year is sealed. Therefore, Jews strive their hardest to make certain that they have performed teshuva before the end of the day.
When the Temple in Jerusalem was active, a Jew was required to bring various sacrifices for certain types of sins. Although sacrifices were required, the most essential part was teshuva, the person bringing the sacrifice would confesses his sins. Presently, with the Temple destroyed, atonement may nevertheless be granted by doing teshuva.
Being or becoming a Jewish penitent (or returnee or born again), is known as a Baal teshuva (Hebrew: בעל תשובה; for a woman: בעלת תשובה, baalat teshuva; plural: בעלי תשובה, baalei teshuva) the Hebrew term referring to a person who has repented. Baal teshuva literally means "one who has repentance". The term has historically referred to a Jew who had not kept Jewish practices, and completed a process of introspection and thus returned to Judaism and morality. In Israel, another term is used, hozer beteshuva (חוזר בתשובה), literally "returning in repentance". Also, Jews who adopt religion later in life are known "baalei teshuva" or "hozerim beteshuva".
With the Roman destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, the Jewish practice of offering korbanot (animal sacrifices) ceased. Despite subsequent intermittent periods of small Jewish groups offering the traditional sacrifices on the Temple Mount, the practice effectively ended.
Jewish religious life was forced to undergo a significant evolution in response to this change; no longer could Judaism revolve round the Temple services. Instead, the destruction of the Temple spurred the development of Judaism in the direction of text study, prayer and further development of the Jewish practice. A range of responses is recorded in classical rabbinic literature, describing this shift in emphasis.
In a number of places the Babylonian Talmud emphasises that following Jewish practice, performing charitable deeds, praying, and studying Torah are greater than performing animal sacrifices and the former can be used to achieve atonement.
High Holy Days -- Young Members of Memphis' Jewish Community Reflect on Forgiveness, Renewal as Faith Marks New Year, Day of Atonement
Sep 15, 2012; As the sun sets Sunday, Jewish people all over the world will celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year of 5773. Rosh...