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If a person stops doing the bad action or begins to do the right action, why does he still need to do Teshuvah for a חטא (sin)? In other words, why do you need to do Teshuvah if you have stopped the behavior?

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@Double AA Thanks for the edits. –  RCW Sep 20 '12 at 20:27
    
@Double AA I changed back the Tags. I do believe part of the answer lies in the fact that it is a Halacha. This is not just a philosophy question, but the legal requirement and formulation of the Mitzvah of Teshuvah. –  RCW Sep 20 '12 at 20:30
    
I usually view halacha questions as "What"s, but taamei-hamitzvot-reasons questions as "Why"s, which is why I opted for the latter in this case. –  Double AA Sep 20 '12 at 20:38
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2 Answers

Based on the Rambam, Hil. T'shuva, T'shuva is commonly broken into four parts.

  1. חרטה - The acceptance and decision that whatever has been happening until now - it was wrong.
  2. עזיבת החטא - Stop doing wrong. Getting onto the right path.
  3. וידוי - Admitting you did wrong, taking responsibility. It's the only way to realize that you are in charge and you have the power to make the change, as well.
  4. קבלה לעתיד - Continuing on the right path, the decision that from now on, you will be doing the right thing.

So, you are talking about phases 2 & 4. It's not exactly that one still has to do T'shuva after stopping the behavior, but that stopping the behavior is part of the T'shuva, the T'shuva, however, should be complete.

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Can you cite a source? –  Monica Cellio Sep 20 '12 at 13:05
    
@MonicaCellio, I've added what I assume is the source intended. –  Seth J Sep 20 '12 at 21:01
    
Thanks @SethJ. (I assumed Rambam but couldn't be more specific.) –  Monica Cellio Sep 20 '12 at 21:07
    
@MonicaCellio I didn't have time to look up the exact Halachoth where he writes this, so I wrote "based on". I'm almost sure it's in the first Perek, though. –  Seth J Sep 20 '12 at 21:10
    
@SethJ, thank you. –  JNF Sep 23 '12 at 8:54
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The Alter Rebbe of Lubavitch in Igeres Hatsheva Perek Aleph (based on Sanhedrin 34b, and Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat Siman 34) defines the mitzvah of Teshuva as the abandonment of sin; that is the sincere resolution never again to violate Hashem's will. As far as that goes, if you have stopped the behavior that is considered the Teshuva.

However that this is only in terms of the mitzvah of teshuva, not the concept of Teshuva. One who G-d forbid sinned needs to rectify the spiritual damage caused by his misdeed, and repair the severed connection to Hashem. As the Alter Rebbe explains at the beginning of the chapter, when one performs a positive command he not only fulfills Hashem's Will, but also draws down a flow of Divine light into the higher spiritual realms and upon his own soul. If one neglects the positive command, that spiritual light is lacking. Transgressing a negative commandment blemished the individual’s soul and the celestial realms. Teshuva is the process of repairing this.

[Additionally, the Alter Rebbe explains in Perek 29 Tanya that Teshuva is an ongoing lifelong process. Dovid Hamelech said "וחטאתי נדגי תמיד", "My sin is constantly before me." However, Dovid was a Tzadik Gamur who also said "ולבי חלל בקרבי", "My evil impulse is as if dead within me" (Rashi). Why was it necessary for him to constantly bear in mind his past sins? The Alter Rebbe explains the greater one's stature, the higher the level of repentance is required of him. Thus even if he may already have repented sincerely, when he ascends to a higher level he requires a higher level of Teshuva to rectify that same sin.]

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