There are many teachings that a sincere repentance will bring forgiveness. One example:

Shim'on bar Yohai said: If a person was perfectly just all his days and at the end he rebelled, he lost all he worked for his entire life... Shim'on ben Lakish said: ...If a person was perfectly evil all his days and at the end he repents, the Holy One, praise to Him, receives him. [Peah Y 1:1]

But I believe earthly punishment by a bet din (death penalty, lashes, fines, shunning, etc.) is not waived even if the perpetrator repents. Is this correct? If so, does repentance only bring with it a promise of better treatment in the World to Come, but not in this world?

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    To your first question, that is correct: אם עשו תשובה אין בית דין של מטה מוחלין להן (Makkoth 13b). To your second question: Certainly one who has performed teshubha is in an overall better state, but how can we know what שכר is issued in ones corporeal life as opposed to in their life of the World to Come? Sep 12, 2022 at 18:04
  • I learned it from the Noda B'Yehuda's discussion which I cannot source now. A Bes Din of humans cannot tell what is really happening in the heart of the sinner who claims they repented. We call this devarim sh'b'lev aynam devarim. Matters of the heart are not matters for consideration by a Bes Din. So they have to administer the punishment because they can never know if the offender repented or not. But G-d knows exactly what is in the heart, so He takes that into consideration. Sep 18, 2022 at 16:22
  • @DavidKenner -- Sounds almost like a "Kill them all; God will know His own" philosophy. Sep 18, 2022 at 22:37
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    @MauriceMizrahi Um Yeah it is. The difference is that even though that's the rule, it was generally very hard to get a conviction in the Sanhedrin system for corporal and capital punishments. So at least you have that. But once they convicted, then yup, its "let Hashem sort it out." Sep 19, 2022 at 6:17
  • @DavidKenner yep, many people underestimate the significance of the point of how hard it is to convict in Torah.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Feb 10, 2023 at 9:59

2 Answers 2


Rabbeinu Yonah in Perek 4 discusses this, and explains that although Teshuva removed the bulk of the sin, there’s still a residue that must be removed with condiments. Here are some excerpts 4:1-

כן יש נפש חולה מעוון רב, ואף על פי שנרפא רוב החולי וסר מרבית חלקי העונש אחרי התשובה ושב הש"י מחרון אפו. לא תנקה הנפש עדנה מן החולי ולא נרצה עונה. עד אשר יוסר החוטא ביסורים והוכח במכאוב, ותקראנה אותו רעות וצרות, כענין שנאמר (בראשית ד׳:י״ג-י״ד) גדול עוני מנשוא, הן גרשת אותי היום מעל פני האדמה ומפניך אסתר, והייתי נע ונד בארץ והיה כל מוצאי יהרגני. ועל ידי התשובה נסלח רוב עונו וסר עיקר העונש ונמלט מן המות. כמו שנאמר (שם) וישם ה' לקין אות לבלתי הכות אותו כל מוצאו. ונשאר עליו עונש הגלות כמו שנאמר (שם) והייתי נע ונד בארץ. והנה הזכיר הטלטול בכפל הלשון ואחרי התשובה נאמר (שם) וישב בארץ נוד

so too is it with the soul sick from great iniquity: And even though most of the sickness is healed, and most parts of the punishment are removed after the repentance - and God, may He be blessed, has gone away from His anger - the soul will not yet be cleansed from the sickness and its sin will not be atoned until the sinner is made to suffer with afflictions, purified with pain and with bad and difficult things that happen to him. [This is] like the matter that is stated (Genesis 4:13-14), “My punishment is too great to bear! Since You have banished me this day from the soil, and I must avoid Your presence; and I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer in the earth; and it will come to pass, that whoever finds me will kill me.” However through repentance, most of his iniquity was forgiven, the main part of his punishment was removed and he was rescued from death - as it is stated (Genesis 4:15), “and the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest anyone who met him should kill him.” But the punishment of exile remained for him, as it is stated (Genesis 4:12), “and I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer in the earth.” Yet he had mentioned [his] migration with a double expression (fugitive and wanderer); whereas after the repentance, it is [only] stated (Genesis 4:16), “and he dwelt in the land of wandering.” (Sefaria)

And in 4:17-

אבל מה שכתוב (שם). כי ביום הזה יכפר עליכם לטהר אתכם שהוא אמור על הטהרה שהשם יתברך מטהר אותנו מן העון ומכפר עלינו כפרה שלמה ביום הכפורים בלא יסורים. זה נאמר על מצות לא תעשה. אבל על כרתות ומיתות בית דין תשובה ויום הכפורים תולין ויסורין ממרקין

But that which is written (earlier in Leviticus 16:30), “For on this day shall atonement be made for you, to purify you” - which is written about the purification that God, may He be blessed, is to purify us from iniquity and atone for us [with] a complete atonement on Yom Kippur without afflictions - is stated about [simple] negative commandments. But regarding [sins that warrant] excision or a death penalty from the court, repenatance and Yom Kippur [only] suspend [the punishment], and afflictions absolve. (Sefaria)


Repentance, Repentance, Repentance.

Yes and no.

"What is repentance? The sinner shall cease sinning, and remove sin from his thoughts, and wholeheartedly conclude not to revert back to it, even as it is said: "Let the wicked forsake his way" (Is. 55.7); so, too, shall he be remorseful on what was past, even as it is said: "Surely after that I was turned, I repented" (Jer. 31. 19). In addition thereto he should take to witness Him Who knoweth all secrets that forever he will not turn to repeat that sin again, according to what it is said: "Say unto Him.… neither will we call any more the work of our hands our gods" (Hos. 14.3–4). It is, moreover, essential that his confession shall be by spoken words of his lips, and all that which he concluded in his heart shall be formed in speech,- Rambam Hilchot Teshuva, (Texts. (n.d.))

Have you heard of double jeopardy, can't be tried twice for the same sin.

Here you see that a punishment from the rabbis is a form of mercy to the soul, because it can't be judged again in heaven.

It gets tricky when you deal with the Keshafim, (Jewish and non-Jewish sorcerers, especially when they want to be the judge).

A good life has nothing to do with only what the rabbis say, it has to do with the full combination of things.

A good standing with Hashem, The people around you, and living within the perimeters of the torah, that fits your hashkafa.


Depending on the sin, resentence can absolve you from punishment, and other sins. Punishment can be the repentance, Through Hashem or the Bait din.

Texts. (n.d.), from https://www.sefaria.org/Mishneh_Torah%2C_Repentance.2.2?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en

  • This has a lot of opinion without sources, and does not really address the question.
    – N.T.
    Sep 13, 2022 at 5:43
  • @NT, Will edit the response, though I believe, it does, answers the question.
    – Gabriel
    Sep 13, 2022 at 12:44

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