web analytics
March 7, 2015 / 16 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Teshuvah Is Easy; Change Is Difficult

The-Shmuz

“And Aharon and all of Bnei Yisrael saw Moshe,
his face illuminated, and they feared approaching him.”
Shemos 34:30

With the entire nation gathered at the foot of Har Sinai, Moshe Rabbeinu went up to receive the Torah. When he came down forty days later, the Jewish people were in a very different state from when he had left them. Through the influence of the mixed multitude, they were engaged in a form of idol worship. While it’s true that the vast majority of the people didn’t actively engage in the act, for such a people so soon after hearing, “I am Hashem Your G-d,” directly from our Creator, this was so egregious that it was considered as if they had each participated. The only hope was for Moshe to beseech Hashem for mercy.

After destroying the Golden Calf, Moshe went back up Har Sinai, spent another forty days with Hashem, and Hashem forgave the Jewish people. Hashem then told Moshe to go back up a third time, now to reaccept the Torah and bring down a second set of luchos.

This time when Moshe came down his face was illuminated – literally shining from holiness. When the people saw him, they were awed and didn’t dare to look directly at him. From that point on, whenever Moshe went out in public, he wore a veil to hide his face.

Rashi comments that earlier, when Hashem Himself appeared to the entire nation, everyone was able to look at Hashem. Now even just the reflection of the Hashem’s glory on the countenance of a man was more than they could handle. From here we see the damage of sin.

This Rashi is difficult to understand. Moshe came down the final time on Yom Kippur. For generations, that day has been set aside as a day of forgiveness because Hashem forgave the sin of the Golden Calf. And even more, Moshe immediately commanded the Jewish People in the mitzvah of building the Mishkan (tabernacle). This was to be a permanent sign that Hashem forgave the Jewish nation. Clearly, the sin was forgiven, so why couldn’t the Jews look at Moshe’s face?

The answer to this can best be understood with a mashol.

Imagine a man who, after having a few too many drinks, gets into his car and begins driving. It takes a while before he is pulled over, but finally the police arrest him, and he stands trial for driving while intoxicated. Understanding the gravity of the charges, he makes a heartfelt appeal to the judge. “Your honor, what I have done is wrong, and there is no excuse. I endangered the lives of others as well as myself, and there is no defending my conduct. I cannot express my shame and regret for my actions. However, it is a first offence, and I am a family man, and community-minded. I beg the court to have mercy.”

If the man is convincing, and the circumstances support him, the judge may forgive him and waive the charges, in which case the offense is stricken from the record.

But what if when he got behind the wheel of his car, instead of being pulled over by the police he plowed into a telephone pole? By the time the paramedics get to the scene, it looks bleak. As a last measure, a helicopter flies him to the nearest hospital, but there is nothing that could be done. His spinal cord is severed, and he is paralyzed from the waist down.

In this case, if he were to stand trial for drunk driving, the judge may forgive him, and his record may be clean, but the damage is still there.

This seems to be the answer to Rashi. The Jewish nation did teshuvah and were forgiven. But the world was still changed. At that pivotal moment in time, for the Exalted Nation to engage in something akin to idol worship changed the very spiritual dimensions of the world. Yes, they were forgiven for what they did, but they weren’t the same as they were before, and neither was the rest of Creation.

Teshuvah Isn’t Enough

This concept is very applicable to us. On Yom Kippur, we are charged with the mitzvah of teshuvah. Teshuvah involves four parts: separating from the sin, regret, confession, and a plan not to repeat the offence. But there is still more work to be done. I have to repair the damage done.

If over the past year I haven’t learned Torah properly, I can ask Hashem to forgive me for my lack of diligence but I still remain lacking. It’s up to me to now fill in what I have lost. If I have had words with relatives of friends, it’s not enough to ask forgiveness. That takes care of the actual sin but the repair of the relationship still has to be done. And certainly in terms of the way that we treat our spouses, while we will ask forgiveness, and can expect it to be granted, the real work is looking forward and asking ourselves, “What can I do to make my marriage better?”

Teshuvah can eliminate the sin and make it as if it never happened, but it can’t make up for the lost opportunity. That can only happen with a course correction, accomplished with careful analysis of how we spend our time and asking ourselves the critical question: am I happy with the direction of my life?

The real work on Yom Kippur involves two parts – the teshuvah process and then changing.

About the Author: Rabbi Shafier is the founder of the Shmuz.com – The Shmuz is an engaging, motivating shiur that deals with real life issues. All of the Shmuzin are available free of charge at the www.theShmuz.com or on the Shmuz App for iphone or Android.


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 “Teshuvah Is Easy; Change Is Difficult”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., the United States, calling for rejection of a bad nuclear deal with Iran, on March 03, 2015.
Post-Bibi Bipartisanship May Result in Congressional Ability to Review Iran Deal
Latest Judaism Stories
Lessons-in-Emunah-new

“But you have all our credit card details from when we paid for the car.”

Niehaus-030615

Even though it sometimes seems as if we have been abandoned, nothing could be further from the truth.

Torat-Hakehillah-logo-NEW

The moment Moshe Rabbeinu was deemed by the mixed multitude to be an inept leader, it was Yosef who filled the void in people’s hearts.

Business-Halacha-logo

“This sounds like a question for Rabbi Dayan,” said Mr. Cohen. He took out his cell phone and called Rabbi Dayan.

To the glee of all Israel haters it was Netanyahu who was accused of endangering US-Israel relations

Over and over, the text tells us about “keeping” Shabbat, about holiness, and a covenant – but why?

Aharon’s guilt with the golden calf is not clear-cut. What if Moshe were in his brother’s place?

The Sabbath is a full dress rehearsal for an ideal society that has not yet come to pass-but will

When Hashem told Moshe of the option to destroy the people and make him and his descendants into a great nation, Hashem was telling Moshe that it is up to him.

Just like Moses and Aaron, Mordechai decides to ruin the party…

An Auto Accident
‘All Agree That They Are Exempt’
(Kesubbos 35a)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Why would the exemption of women from donating the half shekel exempt them from davening Musaf?

This concept should be very relevant to us as we, too, should be happy beyond description.

More Articles from Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier
The-Shmuz

This concept should be very relevant to us as we, too, should be happy beyond description.

The-Shmuz

The avodah (service) of the kohen gadol is vital and highly sensitive; the world’s very existence depends on it.

While it may appear that man is in charge, Hashem orchestrates every activity on the planet

Hashem placed this world at man’s disposal. In a real sense, man is the steward of Creation.

He is fully aware that who he will be for eternity is in his hands.

How can the Da’as Zekeinim say this was Hashem’s plan to allow them to become the Torah Nation? We know it was actually a punishment.

How is it possible that the clothing was more valuable to them than gold or silver?

It is exactly like that of an animal, with all of the passions and desires necessary to drive man though his daily existence.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/teshuvah-is-easy-change-is-difficult/2013/09/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: