23 Elul 5776
Rambam's Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Teshuvah, Chapter 1, Halachah 1:
If a person transgresses any of the mitzvot of the Torah, whether a positive command or a negative command - whether willingly or inadvertently - when he repents, and returns from his sin, he must confess before God, blessed be He, as [Numbrs 5:6-7] states: "If a man or woman commit any of the sins of man... they must confess the sin that they committed."
This referes to a verbal confession. This confession is a positive command.
How does one confess: He states: "I implore You, God, I sinned, I transgressed, I committed inquity before You by doing the following. Behold, I regret and am embarrassed for my deeds. I promise never to repeat this act again."
These are the essential elements of the confessional prayer. Whoever confesses profusely and elaborates on these matters is worthy of praise.
Rambam's Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Teshuvah, Chapter 1, Halachah 3:
...Teshuvah atones for all sins. Even a person who was wicked his whole life and repented in his final moments will not be reminded of any aspect of his wickedness as [Ezekiel 33:12] states: "The wickedness of the evil one will not cause him to stumble on the day he repents his wickedness."
Rambam's Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Teshuvah, Chapter 2, Halachah 1:
[Who has reached] complete teshuvah? A person who confronts the same situation in which he sinned when he has the potential to commit [the sin again], and nevertheless, abstains and does not commit it because of his teshuvah alone and not because of fear or lack of strength.
Rambam's Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Teshuvah, Chapter 2, Halachah 2:
What constitutes teshuvah? That a sinner should abandon his sins and remove them from his thoughts, resolving in his heart, never to commit them again as [Isaiah 55:7] states: "May the wicked abandon his ways...." Similarly, he must regret the past as [Jeremiah 31:1] states: "After I returned, I regretted."
[He must reach the level where] He who knows the hidden will testify concerning him that he will never return to this sin again as [Hoshea 14:4] states: "We will no longer say to the work of our hands: 'You are our gods.'"
He must verbally confess and state these matters which he resolved in his heart.