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There are instances in the Talmud, like that of Elazar ben Dordaya, where one does Teshuva right before death.

My question is how this is possible.

Teshuva, as I understand it, is a process in which one must actually be in the same situation for the sin again and overcome it. And if you may say that Teshuva without this is still achievable, albeit to perhaps a different degree or in a different way, doesn’t Teshuva in its most basic performance require admission (Viduy) of your sins. How would one confess their specific sins in the moment before death?

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    "Teshuva, as I understand it, is a process in which one must actually be in the same situation for the sin again and overcome it." I think that's just incorrect. See the Rambam sefaria.org/Mishneh_Torah%2C_Repentance.2.1?lang=bi
    – MichoelR
    Jul 18 at 19:11
  • @user Ah! You said, "Teshuva,... one must actually be in the same situation". The ONLY way this is possible is if you are reincarnated in a PARALLEL world with the same set of circumstances that existed before you committed that aveira. I keep telling people here and everywhere, that Judaism is full of subtle references to parallel worlds, but nobody seems to listen. I even posted a question here about Parallel Universes in Judaism. BTW, you CAN be reincarnated into a previous time frame. ( Can't remember the reference...but it was from a legit sefer) Jul 20 at 18:00

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Teshuva, as I understand it, is a process in which one must actually be in the same situation for the sin again and overcome it.

H. Teshubha 2:2:

ואם לא שב אלא בימי זקנותו, ובעת שאי אפשר לו לעשות מה שהיה עושה--אף על פי שאינה תשובה מעולה, מועלת היא לו ובעל תשובה הוא

If he does not repent until his old age, at a time when he is incapable of doing what he did before, even though this is not a high level of repentance, he is a Baal-Teshubhah.

Even if one does not face the same circumstances or is even physically incapable of perpetrating the same transgression, their teshubhah is of avail and effective.

doesn’t Teshuva in its most basic performance require admission (Viduy) of your sins. How would one confess their specific sins in the moment before death?

It sounds like you are asking about a scenario where one is physically incapacitated and cannot move their lips and thereby perform widui. More important than the lips moving however is the internal transformation. So much so that without the internal transformation, the widui is pointless (comparable to immersing in the miqwa while holding a sheres, see 2:3-4). I would venture to say that where one is on their deathbed and physically incapable of moving their lips, the principle of אונס רחמנא פטריה (the Merciful One exempts) would apply and the thoughts would be sufficient. We see elsewhere that the mere possibility of the existence of a thought of teshubha can effectuate qiddushin (Qiddushin 49b). I would expect that all the more so, where one is actually doing the internal heavy lifting, and simply cant physically articulate it, that it would be of avail.

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Each Gemara deserves its own answer individually (feel free to ask a more specific question). For example an act of self-sacrifice might be like overriding the exact sin they had done - though not the exact situation.

When we say that someone must be in the same situation, presumably if it is equivalent where the person would have sinned previously, but post tshuva does not or would not do that same sin, that is logically like being in the same situation. And so when someone is willing to give up their life (for example) in many ways that shows a self control that is very powerful and demonstrates they would not have sinned.

We also say that Hashem sometimes considers intentions for a good deed like the action was done. This is specifically when the person would do the action if not for something stopping him.

אמר רב אסי אפי׳ חשב אדם לעשות מצוה ונאנס ולא עשאה מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו עשאה (קידושין מ.)

Based off of this principle perhaps he is considered to have said Vidui and done Tshuva.

Finally, there is a Gemara on Chagiga 5a that if someone regrets a sin they are forgiven immediately.

א״ר חנינא בר פפא כל העושה דבר ומתחרט בו מוחלין לו מיד שנאמר ולא יראוני הא יראוני מוחלין להם מיד

I would argue that you can see that someone might be forgiven, but perhaps it might not be considered like Tshuva where the act is erased from having ever been performed or considered like a Mitzvah. And so there are different levels of forgiveness, tshuvah etc...

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There is no actual requirement to be in the same situation again and resist doing the sin. There isn't even a requirement for the teshuvah to last -- if a person on Yom Kippur is in the right place, they get credit for that regardless of any later backsliding.

The Rambam, Hilkhos Teshuvah 2:2 says:

וּמַה הִיא הַתְּשׁוּבָה. הוּא שֶׁיַּעֲזֹב הַחוֹטֵא חֶטְאוֹ וִיסִירוֹ מִמַּחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ וְיִגְמֹר בְּלִבּוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יַעֲשֵׂהוּ עוֹד שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ישעיה נה ז) "יַעֲזֹב רָשָׁע דַּרְכּוֹ" וְגוֹ'. וְכֵן יִתְנַחֵם עַל שֶׁעָבַר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ירמיה לא יט) "כִּי אַחֲרֵי שׁוּבִי נִחַמְתִּי". וְיָעִיד עָלָיו יוֹדֵעַ תַּעֲלוּמוֹת שֶׁלֹּא יָשׁוּב לְזֶה הַחֵטְא לְעוֹלָם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (הושע יד ד) "וְלֹא נֹאמַר עוֹד אֱלֹהֵינוּ לְמַעֲשֵׂה יָדֵינוּ" וְגוֹ'. וְצָרִיךְ לְהִתְוַדּוֹת בִּשְׂפָתָיו וְלוֹמַר עִנְיָנוֹת אֵלּוּ שֶׁגָּמַר בְּלִבּוֹ:

And what is Teshuvah? It is:
1a. That the sinner leaves the sin,
1b. take it out of his thoughts,
2a. conclude in his heart that he will not do it again ...
2b. similarly, he should be reconciled with his past ... [Does this mean regret? To work out the historical source of the prediliction, like psychoanalysis? -mb]
3. and the One Who Knows secrets would testify about him that he wouldn't return to this sin forever. And
4. he must confess with his lips and say these [three or five] things which he concluded in his heart.

Notice how the Rambam refers to G-d in what I labeled 3. Not "the One Who Knows the future", but the "One Who knows secrets". So, there is no need for the situation to actually come up. Rather, the Rambam is defining teshuvah as changing the state of our thoughts and emotions. To the point that Hashem, Who Knows what is in our minds (both consciously and unconsciously), would Know that the mind in its current state couldn't repeat the sin.

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