web analytics
August 22, 2014 / 26 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Tapping Into Our Meritorious Past

(L-R) The Rambam, The Chofetz Chaim, Rashi.

(L-R) The Rambam, The Chofetz Chaim, Rashi.

“Remember for us the covenant of the patriarchs, as You said, ‘And I will remember My covenant with Yaakov, and also My covenant with Yitzchak, and also My covenant with Avraham I will remember, and the Land will I remember’ ” (Leviticus 26:42 and the Selichos liturgy).

One of the central elements of the Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe) is the concept of zechus avos, which holds that we, as children of holy forefathers, can tap into our ancestors’ great spiritual merit and achieve a degree of atonement that would otherwise be impossible. Despite our own inadequacies, we are able to stand before God and beg forgiveness due to the special relationship that He enjoyed with our progenitors.

The obvious question is, how is this possible? How can it be that Hashem, the ultimate arbiter of truth and justice, would look past our actual deeds and grant us special reprieve simply because of our lineage?

Is it logical to suggest that despite the fact that we may be as guilty of sin (if not more so, at least on a relative level) as the nations around us, we can still be exempted from our poor behavior simply because of a special bond which formed some four thousand years ago? Where is the evenhandedness in such judgment?

* * * * *

Before we attempt an answer to this question, let us first endeavor to reach a clear understanding about the roles and relationship between Hashem’s attributes of din and rachamim (strict justice and mercy, respectively).

Typically, we perceive these two attributes as mutually independent elements of divine justice. Hashem either chooses to judge a person strictly or He applies compassionate mercy, and softens the severity of the true judgment against sinners.

However, this understanding is wholly inaccurate. Rashi, commenting on the first verse in the Torah, questions why it is that throughout the entire first chapter of Genesis only the name “Elokim” – the divine name used to express strict justice – is used when referencing the Creator. Yet, at the beginning of the following chapter (2:4ff), the combined term “Hashem Elokim” is utilized (a term indicating that not only had rachamim become incorporated into Hashem’s mode of judgment, it had even bypassed din as the primary means of ruling). Rashi’s response provides us with a new insight into our discussion:

“In the beginning it was His intention to create [the world] with the Divine Standard of Justice, but he perceived that the world would not endure, so He preceded it with the Divine Standard of Mercy, allying it with the Divine Standard of Justice” (Rashi on Genesis 1:1).

Since the earliest stages of creation, Hashem deemed it necessary for din and rachamim to be melded together to form one complete entity, working together harmoniously in response to man’s misdeeds. But how does this work? How can din and rachamim be used in conjunction with one another to achieve a desired result?

Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler (Michtav M’Eliyahu, Volume 1, p.8ff) explains this idea through the use of the following analogy:

Suppose there are two young men who each rob a bank of the same amount of money. One was raised in a crime-riddled community without proper parenting, guidance and sense of citizenship. The other comes from an upstanding home but fell in with the wrong crowd and turned to a life of crime.

The judge, who happened to be a roommate of the second thief’s father during law school, rules that the first thief must spend two years in prison. His friend’s son, however, is required to pay a small fine and contribute two hundred hours of communal service.

At first glance, this inconsistency in judgment would appear to be highly inappropriate. After all, they both committed the same crime. If anything, logic would dictate that the criminal from the depressed neighborhood should be treated with more clemency, while the one who was raised in an upscale setting should be reprimanded more severely. Certainly the judge would want to avoid any possible accusations of impropriety by letting his friend’s son off easy.

Yet, as noted above, that is exactly the same type of “impropriety” which we ask Hashem for every time we ask Him to spare us in the merit of our forefathers.

About the Author: Rabbi Naphtali Hoff is an executive coach and president of Impactful Coaching & Consulting (www.ImpactfulCoaching.com). He can be reached at President@ImpactfulCoaching.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Tapping Into Our Meritorious Past”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
A member of Students for Justice in Palestine punched a pro-Israel student in the face at Temple University, Aug. 20, 2014. SJP claims the pro-Israel student provoked the incident.
Pro-’Palestine’ Students at Temple U Blame Victim for Altercation
Latest Indepth Stories
Charles Krauthammer

Wye would be seen to have set the groundwork for the creation of a Palestinian state

David_Grossman

Blaming Israel for the violence in Gaza, he ends up justifying Hamas’s terrorism.

488px-WielkaSynagoga3_Lodz

In the Thirties it was common for anti-Semites to call on Jews to “go to Palestine!”

Netanyahu-Obama-030212

Obama never hid his contempt for the Israeli government or the majority of Israel’s voters.

“This arbitrary ban is an ugly stain on our democracy, and it also undermines the rule of law.”

We take US “aid” for psychological reasons-if we have an allowance, that means we have a father.

ZIM Piraeus isn’t Israeli-owned or flagged, incidentally, it is Greek operated.

Foolish me, thinking the goals were the destruction of Hamas thereby giving peace a real chance.

The free-spirted lifestyle didn’t hold your interest; the needs of your people did.

And why would the U.S. align itself on these issues with Turkey and Qatar, longtime advocates of Hamas’s interests?

Several years ago the city concluded that the metzitzah b’peh procedure created unacceptable risks for newborns in terms of the transmission of neo-natal herpes through contact with a mohel carrying the herpes virus.

The world wars caused unimaginable anguish for the Jews but God also scripted a great glory for our people.

We were quite disappointed with many of the points the secretary-general offered in response.

Judging by history, every time Hamas rebuilds their infrastructure, they are stronger than before.

His father asked him to read Psalms from the Book of Tehilim every day.

More Articles from Rabbi Naphtali Hoff
Battling the Amalekites

“If Israel’s offering of land, economic improvements, and even autonomy will not help, what will?”

For breaking his oath of allegiance, Tzidkiyahu was forced to witness the death of his sons before he himself was blinded and exiled to Babylon.

It’s as if Hamas has pulled a page out of Pharaoh’s handbook.

As a guide to others and a foremost member of the Great Assembly, Ezra provided strong leadership and a moral conscience to a people that had lost its way.

For our children, technology is not just another activity that is forbidden on Shabbos.

I can testify from experience, however, that despite such experience and/or training, top-tier leaders often begin their tasks unprepared for the rigors of their new position, particularly when the experience and training focused on instructional leadership (such as classroom observation and curriculum) rather than organizational stewardship and management.

Humility is perhaps the least understood quality a person may possess. Often it is perceived as a form of meekness, a reticence that stems from a lack of self-confidence or an unwillingness to stand up and assert oneself. But that is far from what true humility is.

Throughout the past week we have thanked Hashem for the improbable defeat of the powerful Seleucid forces by a small, untrained band of Jewish fighters. We also celebrated the story’s one open miracle, when the menorah’s lights burned for eight consecutive days following the Temple’s rededication.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/tapping-into-our-meritorious-past/2013/09/03/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: