The word Teshuvah is usually translated as repentance. In fact, there is a well known prayer recited on the High Holy Days that Teshuvah, Tefillah, andTzedakah, translated as “Repentance,” “Prayer,” and “Charity” can avert the evil decree.
This translation is not entirely accurate. Teshuvah is better translated as “return” and signifies a return to the original state.
Classically, Teshuvah is comprised of three ingredients: regret of misdeed, decision to change, and verbal expression of one’s sins. Technically, whenever one sins, one is mandated to do Teshuvah. However, the Ten Days ofTeshuvah between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are specifically designated for Teshuvah, when the gates of prayer and repentance are more open than at any other time during the cyclical Jewish year.
Kabbalistically, Teshuvah takes on more of a cosmic dynamic.
The word Teshuvah in Hebrew may be read “tashuv hey,” literally “returning the letter Hey.” The last letter Hey of the Tetragrammeton refers to Malchut.Malchut is synonymous with Shechinah, which is how G-d manifests Himself as a sovereign within the creation.