web analytics
September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



Tapping Into Our Meritorious Past

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

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

Rav Dessler explains that the proper objective of justice is not to punish criminals or sinners for their misdeeds. Rather, the goal must be to correct the crime or transgression so that they are not repeated in the future. In the case of the second criminal, who was raised in a home that valued proper conduct and respect for the law, this objective can best be achieved through a more lenient approach. This particular young man understands deep down what is right and has conducted himself accordingly in the past. With some additional guidance and a return to a strong, healthy environment, he can be redirected along the proper path. Under these circumstances, even din, strict justice, would agree that leniency offers the best means of turning this young man around. Time in the penitentiary would only exacerbate the problem.

The first criminal, on the other hand, does not possess a clear sense of proper social conduct. From his perspective, crime is a way of life, a means of survival. To allow him immediately back on the street would almost guarantee future repetition of criminal activity, which could result in even more dire results, for him and for those around him. Here, rachamim, unbounded mercy, would advocate for a stricter punishment – to inflict suffering today with the hope of producing a better tomorrow.

* * * * *

When we ask Hashem to factor in his love for our forefathers as part of our judgment, we are not looking to simply take advantage of positive past relationships. Rather, we are asking Him to see the latent potential within us as children of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, and judge us in that light. In that respect, we are like the robber who comes from a good home environment but has become entangled with negative influences. Other nations, however, lack that same pedigree and cannot tap into the same reservoirs of nobility and service.

Let us develop this idea further. In Ruach Chaim, Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin notes the slight change in terminology between Avos 5:4, which refers to Avraham by the term “avinu” (our father), in contrast to the preceding mishnah, where the title is omitted. He states that the reason for the distinction is due to the fact that the previous mishnah focuses on pure genealogy, namely the ten generations from Noach to Avraham. In that respect Avraham was not decidedly more of a paternal figure for our nation than was Noach, from whom all of humanity originates.

What distinguishes Avraham as our collective father, says Rav Chaim, is the fact that he successfully completed a series of tests – the focus of the subsequent mishnah – that strengthened and internalized his deep sense of belief. That belief he bequeathed to future generations, as if through our genetic code, becoming our progenitor on a much deeper level.

Numerous illustrations bear out this point. Take, for example, the issue of self-sacrifice. Why is it, asks R’ Chaim, that so many Jews, even the irreligious, have been willing to sacrifice their own lives for the sanctification of heaven? Consider how many completely disconnected Jews chose to identify with their Jewish ancestry during the Holocaust, at their own peril. Why would they do so when the week before they wanted nothing to do with their Jewishness and aggressively pursued a secular identity? The answer: Because of Avraham’s readiness to choose death in a fiery furnace rather than acquiescing to the sacrilegious demands of King Nimrod.

We see this again in relation to our historic connection to the Holy Land. What is the basis of a Jew’s ever-present longing for his national homeland, even after nearly two millennia of life in exile? How are we to understand why so many secular Jews engaged in self-sacrifice to settle Palestine when the gates of America were still wide open? We can attribute this to Avraham, who hearkened to Hashem’s voice and left his extended family and homeland for a faraway, unknown destination (Canaan).

Yet another application of this idea is the Jewish penchant for physical and spiritual endurance. What has allowed Jews to develop tolerance for even the intolerable, believing that all would eventually work out for the best? Avraham, despite the crippling famine that greeted him upon his arrival in Canaan, never once questioned the divine plan. These and other spiritual qualities were transmitted directly to the Jewish people due to the self-sacrifice and fundamental faith of Avraham Avinu. And of course there are many additional qualities that have been transmitted through the spiritual attainments and deep commitment of our other forefathers and mothers.

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
Sen. Ted Cruz acts senate for unanimous consent to pass the Expatriate Terrorist Act. Sept. 18, 2014.
Ds Reject Voting to Strip Citizenship From US Jihadi ISIS Volunteers
Latest Indepth Stories
IDF lone soldier and  David Menachem Gordon (z"l).

Why has his death been treated by some as an invitation for an emotional “autopsy”?

Starck-091914

SWOT analysis: Assessing resources, internal Strengths&Weaknesses; external Opportunities&Threats.

Kohn-091914

Strategy? For the longest time Obama couldn’t be bothered to have one against a sworn enemy.

Miller-091914

Seventeen visual skills are needed for success in school, sports, and everyday life.

We started The Jewish Press. Arnie was an integral part of the paper.

Fear alone is substantial; without fusing it to beauty, fear doesn’t reach its highest potential.

Fortunate are we to have Rosh Hashanah for repentance, a shofar to awaken heavenly mercy.

Arab leaders who want the US to stop Islamic State are afraid of being dubbed traitors and US agents

National Lawyers Guild:Sworn enemy of Israel & the legal arm of Palestinian terrorism since the ’70s

A little less than 10 percent of eligible Democratic voters came out on primary day, which translates into Mr. Cuomo having received the support of 6.2 percent of registered Democrats.

The reality, though, is that the Israeli “war crimes” scenario will likely be played out among highly partisan UN agencies, NGOs, and perhaps even the International Criminal Court.

Peace or the lack of it between Israel and the Palestinians matters not one whit when it comes to the long-term agenda of ISIS and other Islamists, nor does it affect any of the long-running inter-Arab conflicts and wars.

Rather than serving as a deterrent against terrorist attacks, Israel’s military strength and capabilities are instead looked at as an unfair advantage in the asymmetrical war in which it finds itself.

Sisi:”The religious nature of the Middle East creates challenges for the governing authorities.”

More Articles from Rabbi Naphtali Hoff
Front-Page-082914

While there is no formula that will work for everyone, there are some strategies that if followed carefully and consistently can help our children – and us – gain the most from the upcoming school year.

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.

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: