There are three kinds of atonement and they each involve t’shuva (return). We return to Hashem and we fix our mistakes. Call it accountability, responsibility, love, duty, etc. Here we will be discussing atonement and forgiveness.
There are two types of mitzvos (proactive and refraining), but when it comes to t’shuva, there are three ways to go wrong (which require fixing):
1. Refraining mitzvos (mitzvos lo sa’asei) which one has transgressed. We crossed the line.
a. Krisus u’misos beis din (soul cut-off and worthy of capital punishment). We really crossed the line.
2. Proactive mitzvos (mitzvos asei) which are opportunities missed.
This is how atonement works:
1. If one missed a proactive mitvzah, and one (authentically) decided not to miss it again, forgiveness is immediate.
2. If one crossed the line with a refraining mitzvah, the resolution not to do it again isn’t enough. The t’shuva remains pending and Yom Kippur atones.
3. If one really crossed the line and is worthy of krisus u’misos besi din, both the t’shuva and Yom Kippur pend until the soul is purified by hardship, may we be saved.
Being that proactive mitzvos take precedence over the refraining mitzvos, one would think that missing proactive mitzvos would require more work to make up. Right?
The truth is, however, missing a proactive mitzvah means missing an opportunity to connect to the Light of the Endless, an opportunity that cannot be replaced.
Crossing the line with a refraining mitzvah leaves a mark that can be healed.
Nevertheless, our rabbis tell us that missing a proactive mitzvah is tantamount to a krisus u’misos, and shouldn’t be taken lightly, especially passing up the mitzvah to learn Torah.