Posts Tagged ‘Teshuva’

11
Sep

Pig Wrestling

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Spiritual Growth

“I learned long ago, never wrestle with a pig, you get dirty; and besides, the pig likes it.” George Bernard Shaw

I agree with Shaw, and yet, I see all sorts of people pig-wrestling. We recite numerous Viduiim, or, confessions, from a few days before Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur. I watch people crushed by guilt over their numerous mistakes, imperfections and sins, who promise themselves that they will never sin again. They are directly confronting their Yetzer Harah, Evil Inclination. They lost before and they will lose again. Basically, they are pig wrestling and are bound to get dirty. At least the pig likes it!

Pig wrestling is not the proper response to Vidui. We are not encouraged to directly confront our mighty adversary. We are asked to develop strategies that will help us in battle.

I hope you will read and benefit from The Seven Levels of Teshuvah series, and the three commentaries on the Vidui. No matter what you do, please, never wrestle with a pig. It’s not worth it.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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10
Sep

Something To Explain

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Relationships

I was putting the final touches on my first Yom Kippur sermon in my new synagogue. I wanted to begin with an acknowledgment that I hurt people even though I had only been there for a month or two, and I wanted people to learn to ask for forgiveness. I was writing, “Request for Mechilah – forgiveness – on my notes and the phone rang.

A friend was calling: “Rabbi, it is the custom that the rabbi begin his Yom Kippur sermon by asking everyone in the congregation for forgiveness.” I thanked him and hung up. I stared at my sermon notes, wondering what to do. When I decided to ask for Mechilah it came from my heart. I wasn’t going to do it because it was the custom of my predecessors. My friend had put me in a difficult position. I did not want my congregation to think that a request for forgiveness was only pro-forma. I wanted them to believe it was real. What was I to do?

Eighteen years later, just one of many congregants, I privately corrected the rabbi for an Halachic error. He thanked me and easily acknowledged that he was unfamiliar with those laws. I was so impressed by his natural willingness to recognize the gaps in his knowledge that I told the story at my Shabbat table.

My intentions were to praise him, and yet, the story included that he did not know certain Halachot. I had spoken Avak Lishon Harah – the dust of Lishon Harah about him. I immediately went to his home to ask his forgiveness. “Rabbi, I came to ask for forgiveness for…” and before I could finish my sentence, he said, “I forgive you.”

It was a strange experience. I did not feel that I had successfully repaired anything. He responded before I could even generally describe my sin against him. It was my problem, not his. It was another experience that confused me about the process of asking for forgiveness before Yom Kippur. People treat it as pro forma that everyone will forgive them. I always wonder how seriously people desire forgiveness, meaning to repair their relationship with me and how much they simply want to assuage their own guilt.

Yesterday, one of my children, who has not spoken to me in more than two years, called to wish me a Shana Tova – a Good Year. “Thank you.” “You sound confused.” “I am happily surprised to hear from you.”

“I have nothing to explain to you.”

My child spoke and I appreciated the pre-Yom Kippur “Please forgive me” ceremony in a new way: When my child insisted that there was nothing to explain, the child was saying that there was nothing to fix. When we observe the pre-Yom Kippur “Please forgive me” ceremony we are acknowledging that there is something to repair.

Had my child made that simple acknowledgment, my child would have healed more than two years of torture and suffering. “I have nothing to explain to you”, only made it worse.

So, I openly acknowledge that I have much to repair in many relationships. There are the calls I haven’t returned in a timely fashion, if at all. There are times I am not available to help. I may speak sharply when teaching or answering a question. I am often impatient.

Please know that I understand that I have much to repair and I want to fix all I humanly can. So, please forgive me.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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7
Sep

Kavanot-Kabbalat Shabbat-Elul & Days of Awe-Psalm 96-The Coronation of Justice

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

Psalm 96: “Say among the nations, ‘God reigns.’

The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;

He will judge the peoples with equity.

 

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;

let the sea resound, and all that is in it.

 

Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;

let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.

 

Let all creation rejoice before God, for He comes,

He comes to judge the earth.

He will judge the world in righteousness

and the peoples in His faithfulness.”

Rosh Hashanah, the Coronation of God as King is also the Day of Judgement.

We look to the King:

to establish justice;

to guide the world in righteousness;

to offer stability and reliability so we feel that our efforts will be worthwhile;

A just world will be a joyous world.

A joyous world can be healed.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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7
Sep

Kavanot-Kabbalat Shabbat-Elul & Days of Awe-Psalm 95

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

Moses had seen the Children of Israel at their best when they stood before Sinai and chose to engage in an eternal conversation with God.

Moses saw the Children of Israel at their worst when he rushed from Sinai to present God’s gift of the Two Tablets only to find them dancing wildly around the Golden Calf.

The man who had met these people as slaves, led them through redemption, and watched them grow into expansive human beings, was convinced that they could raise themselves from their deepest pits of self-doubt and soar back to their highest potential:

“Come!” he invites them and us, “Let us sing to God,” and regain your crowns of achievement that I have been holding for you since you shed them after the Golden Calf.

Moses remembers a powerful tale of a human being who appreciated Shabbat as the perfect opportunity to reconnect to his highest moments: Adam.

Adam sinned on the same Friday on which he was created. When he heard God’s voice after he ate of the Tree of Knowledge, rather than hear the message, “I want you to hear me even though you slipped up,” Adam ran away. He did not know, he did not believe that a person who fell so hard could rise again. That is, he did not believe it possible to regain his heights until Shabbat.

God allowed Adam to remain in the Garden for Shabbat. God granted Adam the gift of Shabbat and eternity despite Adam’s belief that he had forfeit access to the eternal. God allowed Adam to continue to experience the Original Perfect Light of Creation even when Adam closed his eyes and hid from himself, convinced that such vision would never again be his.

As Shabbat began, Adam opened his eyes, experienced the Original Light, felt the light touch of the Eternal, and began to discern God’s Voice/Message in the gift of Shabbat:

Moses, who began by inviting us to sing with him and reclaim our crowns of achievement, helps us listen in to Adam’s invitation of Teshuvah: “Come! Let us prostrate ourselves and bow, let us kneel before God, Who relates to us even when we relate to existence at the lowest level, that of Assiyah – The Maker.”

Adam invites us to kneel after we prostrate and bow. Do we not kneel on the way down to bowing? Why speak of kneeling after bowing?

Unless, Adam is speaking of kneeling on the way up after bowing; pausing as we rise from the lowest point and focus on the rising that follows the bow rather than the prostration. Adam understood that the gift of Shabbat is the opportunity to rise to the greatest heights no matter how distant or low we feel.

Moses applies Adam’s lesson and invites us to rise up and sing with him, reclaim our lives at their highest. The question is never how low we fell. It is always how well do we rise?

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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6
Oct

Mistakes: H’evinu

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

“Noah removed the covering of the Ark, and looked, and behold! The surface of the ground had tried (to see Genesis 8:13).” It is also possible to read the final phrase of the verse as, “the surface of the ground had been destroyed.”

What did Noah see when he first looked outside of the Ark after the waters of the Flood had tried? Did he he see a pristine perfect world, with everything fresh and alive? Or, did he see a beautiful world that was made possible only by the destruction of all that had existed before?

“The Lord spoke to Noah, saying. “Go forth from the Ark; you and your wife, your sons, and your sons’ wives with you. Every living being that is with you of all flesh, of birds, of animals, and moving things that move on the earth, ordered them out with you, and let them team on the earth and be fruitful and multiply on the earth (Verses 15–17).”

God understands that Noah is torn between the beautiful future laid out before him and the past that was so devastatingly destroyed. God instructs him to go forth and build and be fruitful and multiply on the earth. God wants Noah to be focused on building the future.

Noah rises to the occasion: “then no I built an altar to God and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.”

God responds to Noah’s actions: “God smelled the pleasing aroma, and God said in His heart: “I will not continue to curse again the ground because of man.” “All the days of the earth, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

More blessing follows: “the Lord blessed Noah and his sons, and He said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the land. The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, in everything that moves on earth and in all the fish of the sea; in your hand they are given.”

Everything is moving forward as it should. This is a time of great blessing; that is, until Noah takes a slight detour:

“Noah, the men of the earth, debased himself and planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk, and he uncovered himself with in his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers outside.”

One moment, Noah is the man of the future. The next moment he is the man of the earth, drunk and naked. Noah took a detour from his greatness and his mission. This detour is H’evinu.

The detour was made. Noah had to choose whether to return to what he was ordered to remain off his path: “no awoke from his wanting and realized what his small son had done to him. And he said, “Cursed is Canaan; a slave of slaves shall he be to his brothers.” And he said, “Blessed is God, the Lord of Shem; and let Canaan be a slave to them. May the Lord extend Japheth, but he will dwell in the tents of Shem; May Canaan be a slave to them.”

Noah awoke and rejected his detour and returned to his role as the builder of the future. He laid out the course of human history.

Many of us have our great and grand moments. We find ourselves on a productive path. We have a vision. We live as builders of the future. But then, all too often, we too take a detour and lose sight of our vision. H’evinu describes those people who, when they find that they have detoured from a healthy path, lose sight of their original vision and remain lost in their turn off their road to greatness.

Noah teaches us how to repair H’evinu: by taking a firm stand, making a loud declaration that we are determined to return to our original path of greatness.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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6
Oct

Mistakes: Maradnu

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

“Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. He went up to the temple of God with the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of God. The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of God—to follow God and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant (II Kings 23:1-3).”

“Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to God as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses (Verse 25).”

Can this king who is so praised by the Bible ever rebel?

The Midrash teaches: Jeremiah said to Josiah, “I have received the following tradition from my teacher Isaiah: “I shall confuse Egypt with Egypt (Isaiah 19:2),” meaning, Egypt’s defeat will not come through you.” Josiah did not heed him. He said, “Did your teacher Moses not say, “The sword shall not pass through your land (Leviticus 26:6)?” Now the sword of that wicked one is passing through my land and within my border.” (Eichah Rabbati 1:53)

“After all this, when Josiah had set the temple in order, Necho king of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah marched out to meet him in battle. But Necho sent messengers to him, saying, “What quarrel is there, king of Judah, between you and me? It is not you I am attacking at this time, but the house with which I am at war. God has told me to hurry; so stop opposing God, who is with me, or he will destroy you.”

Josiah, however, would not turn away from him, but disguised himself to engage him in battle. He would not listen to what Necho had said at God’s command but went to fight him on the plain of Megiddo.

Archers shot King Josiah, and he told his officers, “Take me away; I am badly wounded.” So they took him out of his chariot, put him in his other chariot and brought him to Jerusalem, where he died. He was buried in the tombs of his ancestors, and all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for him (II Chronicles 35:20-24).”

“The archers shot at King Josiah (II Chronicles 35:23).” Rabbi Mani said: They shot 300 arrows into him until his body became like a sieve. Jeremiah listened carefully to hear what he would say as he expired. What did he say? “It is God Who is righteous, for I disobeyed His utterance (Lamentations 1:18),” His utterance, and that of His messenger, Jeremiah.”

The righteous Josiah refused to obey the instruction of Jeremiah. He rebelled. He disobeyed the prophet because he was convinced that he is reading of the Bible was correct, and more significant then the tradition Jeremiah had received from Isaiah.

His intentions were perfect. His motivations were directed toward God. Yet, his actions are considered an act of rebellion.

Josiah learns from his mistake in the final moment of his life, acknowledges his error, and accepts the authority of God and His messenger, Jeremiah.

There are times when we act with the best of motivations, the purest of intentions, and yet our actions may very well be considered an act of rebellion. Whether it is to speak negatively of someone we consider wicked, or to insist on perfect decorum in prayer even at the price of embarrassing someone, or ignoring a child’s cries for attention because we need to study, or to publicly rebuke someone we consider a bad influence even if that means the person will feel cut off from the community, actions motivated by good do not necessarily mean that they are consistent with God’s wishes. In fact, they may actually be considered an act of rebellion.

I recall people who publicly declared that a halachic decision of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l was a travesty. They were convinced that they were fighting for truth. Despite their intentions, there is no question that their actions were a rebellion against the authority of Rav Moshe.

Josiah learned from his mistake and died with and acknowledgment of God’s authority on his lips. We do not need to wait for our final moment to repair our acts of rebellion. We can repair all of the moments when we questioned God’s judgment, fairness, and justice; our Maradnu, by following our recitation of Maradnu by declaring God’s righteousness.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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6
Oct

Mistakes: Tafalnu Sheker

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

“Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before God! Why did you bring God’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”

Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of God appeared to them. God said to Moses, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”

So Moses took the staff from God’s presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.

But God said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to sanctify Me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

These were the waters of Meribah, where the Israelites quarreled with God and where He was proved holy among them (Numbers 20:2-13).”

Although the verse describes the place as where God, “was proved only among them,” we are still told that God was angry with Moses and Aaron for their failure to, “sanctify Me in the eyes of the Children of Israel.” the sanctification of God’s Name was less, Taful, then it would have been had Moses spoken to the rock. That lived till bit less than what it could have been added an element of falsehood to Moses’s actions.

A rushed prayer that is less than it could have been, has this quality of Tafalnu Sheker. A Shabbat, a festival, any mitzvah that is performed with Taful, a since that it is less then what it truly is, is Tafalnu Sheker. It is similar to one person saying to another, “I love you,” when it is clear that he does not.

Moses is frustrated by his inability to repair his sin: “I implored God at that time, saying, “My Master, God, the Lord, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your strong and, for what power is there in the heaven or on the earth that can perform according to Your deeds and according to Your mighty acts? Let me now cross and see the good Land that is on the other side of the Jordan, this good mountain and the Lebanon.” But God became angry with me because of you, and He did not listen to me; God said to me, “It is too much for you! Do not continue to speak to Me further about this matter. Ascend to the top of the cliff and raise your eyes westward, northward, self word, and eastward, and see with your eyes, for you shall not cross this Jordan (Deuteronomy 3:23–27).”

Moses was frustrated, but God described His greatest prophet so that all would know forever that Moses’s mistake had been repaired: “Never again has there arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom God had known face to face, as evidenced by all the signs and wonders that God sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharoah and all his courtiers and all his land, and by all the strong hand and awesome power that Moses performed before the eyes of all Israel (Deuteronomy 34:10–12).”

God teaches us that the fixing of Moses’s sin could be found in the broader view of the life of the greatest Prophet. There will always be mitzvot we perform at less than optimal levels. Our focus must be not on the specific actions but on the message we convey by the way we live. If our actions reflect the truth of our convictions, we will have successfully repaired Tafalnu Sheker.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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6
Oct

Mistakes: Latznu

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

In “Meditations on First Philosophy,” Descartes set out to determine how and if we can distinguish false beliefs from true knowledge. He began by noting that there is theoretically no limit to how wrong we could be, because, God could deliberately deceive us about even the most seemingly self-evident matters. People were uncomfortable speaking of God as a deceiver, so Descartes’ conceit has become known as the Evil Genius. The Evil Genius is determined to have us embrace the possibility that I am wrong. His real “genius” is when the Evil Genius makes us laugh at our perceived accomplishments or potential: Latznu. Cain was the first victim of this approach of the Evil Genius:

“Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to God. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. God looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering He did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

Then God said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. (Genesis 4:2-8)”

It was Cain’s idea to bring an offering to God. Abel simply copied his older brother. Cain’s offering meant far more than Abel’s because he worked the land God had cursed, and still wanted to acknowledge God’s role in his success! He could not understand why God did not look with favor on his offering.

God explains, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” In other words, “You can do better!”

“You did so much. Your offering is so significant, that I desire more from you.”

“If you do not rise to what you can be you will fall in sin.”

Cain refused to hear that he could rise higher. He scoffed at what he could be. He wanted acknowledgement of what he already was. “How can I be better if You do not even look with favor at what I have already done?”

The great spiritual hero became a killer, and eventually, a scoffer of God’s greatness:

“Then God said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

God saw the two offerings and chose one over the other: Would He not know what happened to Abel?

The man who laughed at his potential made light of God’s knowledge, and eventually, perceived himself as a victim of the world – a joke:

God said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”

Cain said to God, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” I have become a joke!

“When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you,” you, Cain, who overcame the original curse of the land and who insisted on making an offering of his work to God, have lost the greatness you had. You laughed at your potential; now you will lose what you had.

The Children of Israel fell victim to the Evil Genius when he convinced them to doubt that Moses would return from Sinai. They could not see what they had accomplished. They lost sight of their potential. They constructed the Golden Calf and partied; everything became a joke.

God guided them back by teaching them that they had the power to bring His Presence to earth, even more intensely than it was at Sinai: The people would use the same desire to build something physical with gold and silver to construct a home for the Divine Presence:

“Then Moses set up the courtyard around the tabernacle and altar and put up the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard. And so Moses finished the work. Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of God filled the tabernacle. Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of God filled the tabernacle. (Exodus 40: 33-35)”

The great Moses who ascended Sinai for forty days and forty nights could not enter the tabernacle constructed by the people because, “the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of God filled the tabernacle.”

How often do we fall to the Latznu of the Evil Genius that makes us scoff at our accomplishments and potential! God constantly reminds us how we can learn from our mistakes. We can build by using our belief in our potential, just as any couple that marries is building a home perfectly confident in their ability to build something lasting.

We say Latznu and beat our chest, but then we use that fist to reach forward into the future with confidence. We have learned from our mistakes. We have learned how much we hurt ourselves when we make light of our accomplishments and potential. We face the future with strength.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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5
Oct

Mistakes: Ti’Ta’anu

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Prayer

Having no theory at all and having too many theories both suggest that you are in the middle of a crisis of knowledge. A year and a half after the MilleritesGreat Disappointment,” one former believer, Enoch Jacobs, exclaimed, “O what an ocean of contradictory theories is that upon which the multitudes have been floating for the last eighteen months. Do you not long for rest from these conflicting elements?”

Ti’Ta’anu is our confession of functioning despite our crisis of knowledge despite its consequences:

For three years there was no war between Aram and Israel. But in the third year Jehoshaphat king of Judah went down to see the king of Israel. The king of Israel had said to his officials, “Don’t you know that Ramoth Gilead belongs to us and yet we are doing nothing to retake it from the king of Aram?”

So he asked Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to fight against Ramoth Gilead?”

Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, “First seek the counsel of God.”

So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—about four hundred men—and asked them, “Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?”

“Go,” they answered, “for God, My Master will give it into the king’s hand.”

But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no longer a prophet of God here whom we can inquire of?”

The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one prophet through whom we can inquire of God, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.”

“The king should not say such a thing,” Jehoshaphat replied.

So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, “Bring Micaiah son of Imlah at once.”

Dressed in their royal robes, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were sitting on their thrones at the threshing floor by the entrance of the gate of Samaria, with all the prophets prophesying before them. Now Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had made iron horns and he declared, “This is what God says: ‘With these you will gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.’”

All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. “Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious,” they said, “for God will give it into the king’s hand.”

The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, the other prophets without exception are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favorably.”

But Micaiah said, “As surely as God lives, I can tell him only what God tells me.”

When he arrived, the king asked him, “Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or not?”

“Attack and be victorious,” he answered, “for God will give it into the king’s hand.”

The king said to him, “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of God?”

Then Micaiah answered, “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and God said, ‘These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.’”

The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Didn’t I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?”

Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of God: I saw God sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. And God said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’

“One suggested this, and another that. Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before God and said, ‘I will entice him.’

“‘By what means?’ God asked.

“‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said.

“‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said God. ‘Go and do it.’

“So now God has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. God has decreed disaster for you.”

Then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah went up and slapped Micaiah in the face. “Which way did the spirit from God go when he went from me to speak to you?” he asked.

Micaiah replied, “You will find out on the day you go to hide in an inner room.”

The king of Israel then ordered, “Take Micaiah and send him back to Amon the ruler of the city and to Joash the king’s son, and say, ‘This is what the king says: Put this fellow in prison and give him nothing but bread and water until I return safely.’”

Micaiah declared, “If you ever return safely, God has not spoken through me.” Then he added, “Mark my words, all you people!” (I Kings 22:2-28)

“But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, “First seek the counsel of God.” Jehoshaphat insisted on asking the counsel of God. He knew to not believe Ahab’s prophets: “But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no longer a prophet of God here whom we can inquire of?”

Jehoshaphat understood that Ahab did not follow God’s word, or the instructions of a true prophet:

“The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one prophet through whom we can inquire of God, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.”

He rebukes Ahab for his cynicism: “The king should not say such a thing,” Jehoshaphat replied.”

Yet, even after he hears, “So now God has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. God has decreed disaster for you,” he went into battle with Ahab! How did this incredibly righteous king err so disastrously?

Too many agendas and too many theories:

Too many agendas: He wanted peace in Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” He also wanted to follow God: “First seek the counsel of God.” He also wanted victory for Israel.

Too many theories: So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—about four hundred men—and asked them, “Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?” “Go,” they answered, “for God, My Master will give it into the king’s hand.”

Micaiah even includes this in his prophecy: “One suggested this, and another that. Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before God and said, ‘I will entice him.’

The process begins with, “One suggested this, and another that,” all sorts of opinions, and inevitably ends with, “I will (falsely) entice him.” Once we have numerous agendas on the table, and too many opinions and theories, we will move forward only by deceiving ourselves.

“You will succeed in enticing him,’ said God. ‘Go and do it.’” The deceiving spirit was permanently expelled from God’s Presence for its willingness to deceive.

Was Jehoshaphat able to repair his mistake?

“Now Jehoshaphat built a fleet of trading ships to go to Ophir for gold, but they never set sail—they were wrecked at Ezion Geber. At that time Ahaziah son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “Let my men sail with yours,” but Jehoshaphat refused.” (I Kings 22:49-50)

Jehoshaphat refused Ahaziah’s help because he recognized that he lost his fleet as a punishment for allying himself with the wicked (See II Chronicles 20:37). He understood that he could not support his multiple agendas, nor continue to live with so many theories and opinions if he was to succeed.

I think of Ti’Ta’anu as the Post Yom Kippur Syndrome: This year I will learn Chumash, Navi, Tehillim, Mishna, Talmud, Midrash, Mussar, philosophy, Halacha…  This year I will work on my anger, my speech, my marriage, my work habits…

Many of us develop a huge list of agendas for the coming year, especially after we hear far too many theories about priorities in study and development of a relationship with God. We end up drowning in agendas and theories and losing the fleet.

We often end up deceiving ourselves with all sorts of explanations and excuses for failing to complete the extensive To-Do lists we composed on Yom Kippur.

We need not wait for after Yom Kippur to fall into Ti’Ta’anu; There are so many things we’d like to do and accomplish; more time with family, learn a new skill, take time to relax, develop friendships, become more politically active… The list grows, and we begin to drown in agendas. We get stuck.

We listen to one Rabbi speak of the importance of prayer, while another will speak of the primacy of Mussar, Ethical Development. The list grows, and we begin to be overwhelmed by theories. We cannot move forward.

Jehoshaphat had to choose his agenda: It was more important to avoid evil than to nurture peace with the wicked king of the Northern Kingdom. He set his priorities and began to move forward.

When we reflect on Ti’Ta’anu, and how we flounder in too many theories and agendas, we can declare that we have learned from our mistakes by choosing our most important goal for the coming year. The mistake will be repaired, and the year will be one of Tikkun.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.

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5
Oct

“Schindler’s Yom Kippur” by Prof Gerald August

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays

Schindler’s list is a great movie from the 1990s about Oscar Schindler, a businessman in Nazi Germany who made guns for the Nazis. He saved over 1200 Jews.

Schindler teaches us how to approach Yom Kippur. The Torah teaches us to “Afflict your soul.” People fast, do not wear leather shoes, etc. but the real command is to feel regret.

At the end of the movie, is a famous scene. The war was over and the Russians were approaching Schindler’s compound. He would be shot. So he was fleeing west. The Jews gathered and presented Schindler with a ring. On the ring was an inscription from the Talmud. “He who saves a single life it is as if he saved a whole world”. Schindler broke down and cried,” I could have done more. Had I sold my watch, I could have saved two more people”. The Jews crowded around him and said, “No! No! Look what you did.” It is one of the most famous and moving scenes in film history.

So Oscar Schindler teaches us how to approach Yom Kippur .He was afflicted. “I could have done more.” This is Yom Kippur.

Three days after I saw the movie, I went to a synagogue where a Schindler survivor spoke.

Someone asked the survivor the following question, ”Did that scene really happen?” The survivor answered, “I do not remember Oscar Schindler on that day saying I could have done more.”

What? The scene was a Spielberg invention? A Hollywood trick? My heart fell to the floor.

But, that was not the total answer from the survivor. Listen very well to the answer. He said,” I do not remember Oscar Schindler saying on that day I could have done more.

But, I worked with Schindler in his office for over a year, and MANY TIMES I heard him say, “I could have done more.”

I believe and know that someone who kept focusing on a goal will do more. Does this mean he saved two more Jews? Twenty more? Two hundred more? I don’t know.

But, this is more impressive than the famous last scene, which is a dramatization and an amalgam of Schindler’s mindset.

Because if Schindler only said it at the end, he could not have done more.The fact that he focused many times on his goal means he did do more.

Oscar Schindler teaches us how to take Yom Kippur into the new year.

We are sincere on Yom Kippur. We want to improve. But we all know what happens after a few weeks. We do not do more. We need a constant focus.

One way is to put that focus on a to-do list every couple of weeks.

There is a place we do more every week. In synagogues on Shabbat we do one thing more. We have an additional service. Mussaf. We add more.

One way to do mussaf and use it, is to remind yourself to do more. Something specific. Even if you give $.25 more to charity each week, it will be more. Or you consciously do a random act of kindness that Mussaf triggers, that is more.

Even if you don’t do something every week, you can set up a periodic way to do more.

New York City has a subway system. When a citizen turns 65, the price for a subway ride is cut by 50%. Many seniors I know are very excited about this benefit.

One day Allen was having dinner with his friend Paula. Allen is a senior and Paula is not. Allen told Paula he does not understand why someone like him, who is still working, should be paying less for a subway than a working person under age 65. Paula suggested he pay full fare. Allen pointed out that doing so would not lower the subway fare for the other people.

Paula then suggested he take the difference in the fare and give it to charity. Allen went home that evening and thought about her suggestion. He had recently put $50 on his subway card. He thought to himself, “When I refill the card, I will send $50 to a charity.”

He arranged a meeting with Rabbi Weinberg. He told the rabbi this story and asked the following question. “I want my $50 to do something. The basic need people have is food. What food bank spends most of the donation on the food?”

The rabbi replied, “City Harvest”. This program picks up food daily from restaurants, corporate cafeterias and other places that by law, for health reasons, need to get rid of the food they have that day. 91% of the donation to City Harvest goes to providing food. To put it another way, $50 provides about 200 pounds of food.

Allen has implemented this program. Every time he refills the subway card, he donates to City Harvest. Allen wanted to do more. Oscar Schindler, Paula and the rabbi taught him how to do so.

Every Yom Kippur we will realize we could have done more than last year. But if we follow Schindler’s teaching we will be saying,” I could have done more” on less, because we did do more.

This post is the yartzeit post in memory of my father, who’s yartzeit is on Yom Kippur.

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