Close your eyes, breathe in deeply, now exhale slowly… That was easy, wasn’t it? Not for everyone…
Is teshuvah difficult?
Teshuvah, repentance, literally means “to return.” To what are we returning?
What is the nature of the special covenant between God and the Jewish people?
“For this precept that I am commanding you today is not hidden from you, nor is it far away” (Devarim 30:11).
The Ramban explains that the “correct understanding…is that ‘this precept’ is a reference to the…concept of teshuvah, for the verses’You shall take it to heart’ (v. 1) and ‘You shall return to Hashem, your God’ (v. 2) are the precepts that command us to do this…. For this matter is not hidden and far away from you. Rather, it is very close to you, for you to do it at any time and in any place.”
Ramban interprets the Torah’s description of something that is “not hidden from you, nor is it far away from you” as a reference to the mitzvah of teshuvah, repentance. This understanding is puzzling.
After all, can teshuvah really be considered a simple matter? Is it easy for a person to break out of his habits and repent from wrongdoing? Altering one’s habitual behavior is an extraordinarily difficult task. How can the Torah describe teshuvah as easy and close at hand?
There is another question that must be addressed as well. Even if the mitzvah of teshuvah is indeed so easy and readily available, why does the Torah choose to emphasize, specifically with regard to this mitzvah, that it is so easy to fulfill? We do not find a similar statement in the context of any other mitzvah in the Torah.
Let us analyze the verses at the beginning of Parshas Nitzavim (Devarim 29:9-20) that describe how Moshe Rabbeinu ushered Bnei Yisrael into a covenant with God. In those verses, Moshe admonishes them, “Lest there be among you a man or woman, or a family or tribe, whose heart departs today from Hashem, our God, to go and serve the gods of those nations…. God will not desire to forgive him, for then God’s anger and jealousy will be aroused against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book will come to rest upon him, and God will blot his name out from beneath the heavens.”
This is puzzling in light of the fact that, in the previous parshah, Parshas Ki Savo, the Torah describes at length the severe punishments that will befall the Jewish people if, God forbid, they depart from the way of Hashem and His Torah. What do the verses in Parshas Nitzavim add that was not already previously mentioned in the frightful warnings of Parshas Ki Savo?
We suggest that there is a fundamental difference between the punishments listed in Ki Savo and those described in Nitzavim.In Ki Savo, the Torah sets forth the punishments that are meted out in retribution for sin itself. Nitzavim, on the other hand, introduces a new concept: the obligation to fulfill God’s commandments purely as a function of the covenant between God and Israel. This is indicated in the verse in which Moshe Rabbeinu tells the Jewish people that they had been gathered in order “for you to enter into the covenant of Hashem, your God, and His oath, that Hashem, your God, is establishing with you today.”
The covenant between God and the Jewish people is more than a particularly powerful bond or close relationship. Rather, it represents complete unification, as the Zohar declares, “The Holy One, Blessed be He, and Israel are one” (Zohar, Vayikra p. 73a).
Every Jew’s soul is a piece of the Divine essence, hewn from beneath the Throne of Glory. As a result of this covenant of unification, the Jewish people’s bond with God can never be completely severed.
About the Author: Rav Dovid Hofstedter is the founder and nasi of Dirshu and mechaber of the Dorash Dovid sefarim on the Torah and Moadim.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
I sought a Muslim group that claims to preach a peaceful and accepting posture of Islam, Ahmadiyya
While Orthodox men are encouraged to achieve and celebrated for it, Orthodox women too often are not
Jonathan remember, as long as you’re denied your right to come home to Israel you’re still in prison
“Yesha” and Binyamin Regional Council leaders said the attack “is not the path of Jews in Judea and Samaria.”
The occasion? The rarely performed mitzvah of pidyon peter chamor: Redemption of a firstborn donkey.
American leftists have a pathological self-inflicted blindness to the dangers of political Islam
Hillary should THANK Trump; By dominating the news he’s overshadowed the implosion of her campaign
Hard to remember when Jewish youth were so hostile to their heritage as they are on campuses today.
Names of the enablers of Iran’s Nuclear weapons will be added next to Hitler’s on the list of infamy
By most accounts, the one person with the political muscle to swing enough Democratic votes to override a veto is Sen. Schumer.
The next day, in a speech in New York to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Kerry substantially upped the ante.
In Israel, the judiciary has established itself as superior to ALL other branches of the government.
We are grateful to Hashem that we have been privileged to institute this program and that over the years we have experienced tremendous siyata d’shmaya, with the program spreading throughout the world and its membership rapidly rising.
Perhaps worse than all the above is the acute lack of unity among Jews
Achdus, unity, is a term that warms the heart. It is an ideal we all aspire to achieve but often find so elusive.
We are still in galus. Another year has gone by, a difficult year in many ways, but Mashiach has not yet arrived, the Beis HaMikdash has not yet been rebuilt and we are still languishing in exile.
“Therefore we are obligated to give thanks…to the One Who performed all these miracles for our forefathers and for us. He took us out from slavery to freedom…and from servitude to redemption.” – Haggadah shel Pesach
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/roots-of-repentance/2011/09/21/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: