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WE HAVE A CHANCE TO MAKE AMENDS

WE HAVE A CHANCE TO MAKE AMENDS

Thursday, 4 December, 2014 - 12:23 pm

Moshe cannot sleep, tossing and turning from side to side. Finally his wife Sarah protests, "Moshe, what's bothering you? It is 3:00 AM, why aren't you sleeping?”

He says: "I owe Yankel, our next door neighbor, $20,000, but I have no money. What shall I do?"
 
Sarah bangs on the wall and shouts to the neighbors: "Yankel! My Moshe still owes you $20,000? Well he isn't giving them back ever!"
Moshe protests, "What are you doing, darling? Why are you telling him I will never pay him back?"
 
Turning to her husband, Sarah replies, "Why should Yankel sleep while you stay awake; let it be the other way around: You should sleep and let Yankel stay awake!"
 
The concept of teshuvah—of introspection, return, repentance and change—is the theme of this time of the year, as we enter the High Holidays season. It is also articulated in this week’s portion, Nitzavim: “And you will return to the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul.”
 
Teshuvah, repentance, is one of the greatest gifts that Judaism and Torah have given humanity. It is the idea that G-d gives second chances. This is a fundamental part of the Jewish experience and is written in innumerable places in Torah.
 
An irate gentleman telephoned the New York Times office.
 
"You put my name, Jack Brown, in the obituary column. I would like to inform you that I am actually very much alive!"
 
The head of the department quietly answered him, "Sir, the New York Times does not make mistakes, and we do not apologize for anything that appears in our newspaper.
 
"However, I'll do you a favor. Tomorrow, I shall put your name in the birth column!"
 
The Jewish concept of teshuvah teaches that we have the chance to make amends, to be placed in the birth column and start all over again.
 
Rabbi Akiva said, "How lucky are you, O Israel! Before whom are you purifying yourself, and who purifies you? Our father in Heaven!"
 
Joe, a filthy rich miser, dies and comes to heaven. They pull up his file and realize that he never gave charity, so he has to go to Purgatory.
 
The miser pipes up and says, “That’s not true! I once gave a poor widow 5 cents! It was January 26, 1978. She was standing on the street, on a cold day, and begged me for five cents. Even I could not refuse her so I gave her the nickel.”
 
They pull up his information. Yes, the guy is right. He did give charity once to a poor widow. A commotion began in heaven. What do we do with this horrible miser?
 
Finally, the angel in charge says, “Listen. Give him back his nickel and let him go to hell.”
 
As Jews, we turn to G-d each year, and all of us feel some sense of remorse or regret for one or two or three things in our life that need to be mended. We are not ready for complete transformations, but there is always that one little lie or cheat that is nagging at us, that we really want to get off our chests. We ask G-d, or whomever we wronged, to forgive us for that one act. We cannot be bothered with our other issues and challenges at the moment, but we are ready to deal with this one item, right now.
 
Is this worth anything? Does G-d care for this type of repentance?
 
Rabbi Akiva responds:
 
Just as a Mikvah purifies the impure, there are ones who will remain impure even after the Mikvah. They have contracted much more severe and serious impurities which they do not wish to deal with at the moment. However, when they immerse in the Mikvah, it will purify them at that moment for the lesser impurities they also have. Exactly so does G-d purify Israel!
 
Why? Why doesn’t G-d act as any normal person would, and throw our measly attempt at a reconciliation back in our faces?
 
To this, Rabbi Akiva tells us:
 
Because G-d is our “Parent in heaven,” who is anxiously waiting for the merest sign of positive movement from us, His child. A good parent will embrace and appreciate the tiniest effort his son makes to connect with him.
 
Today, all psychologists and educators agree that the way to educate is by focusing and drawing attention to even the smallest positive successes of our children and building on them. Education through criticism has been debunked and proven to be futile at best, and destructive at worst.
 
But Rabbi Akiva said this almost 2,000 years ago! G-d is the ultimate loving parent. When he sees that a Jew makes even the slightest movement of teshuvah, regardless of how much he has left to go, G-d immediately embraces this movement with the deepest love.
 
Rabbi Akiva is telling us that G-d values and cherishes EVERY SINGLE MITZVAH A JEW DOES. G-D EMBRACES EVERY ACT OF CHANGE.
 
May we all merit a happy and healthy sweet new year.
 
Shana Tova!
 
Rabbi Yoseph Geisinsky

 

Comments on: WE HAVE A CHANCE TO MAKE AMENDS
7/22/2017

XRumerTest wrote...

Hello. And Bye.