Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Taking Responsibility and Doing Tshuva

The Chidushei haLeiv (R' Henoch Leibowitz, z"tzal, on Chumash) brings a R' Bachaya at the being of parsha Sh'mos that makes the following observation: Anyone who denies he received a benefit from another person will come to deny he receives any benefit from HaShem.  The proof?  Paroh denied he received a benefit from Yosef, then later he denies knowing HaShem.

A fascinating aspect of this R' Bachaya, observes the Chidushei haLeiv, is that the benefit from Yosef haTzadik had occurred a long time earlier (perhaps a century or more).  Moreover, Paroh had originally stood up for the Jews when the Egyptian people came to him with complaints.  It was only after they actually rebelled, threw Paroh off the throne, and after working an additional three months in exile to get them to see reason, that he finally capitulated.  And yet the R' Bachaya sweeps that all away.  He denied the good from Yosef; that's why he denied HaShem.

R' Henoch learns from here that whenever any defect is discovered in one's midos -- no matter what the pressures and no matter how small -- unless the person does tshuva on that defect, it will grow and fester to the point of actually denying HaShem.  It is like a small leak in a dam.  No matter how small a trickle is apparent and no matter how much pressure was needed to start it; without repairs the dam will eventually burst.

Imagine coming home after a very trying day at work, topped off by a bad review, arriving home to find the sewer backed up into the basement, the van needs new brakes, the  spouse has a fever, and the kids burned dinner... and -- BOOM! -- a temper is lost.  The tendency (by which I mean, "my tendency") is to excuse he behavior.  "Look", I say, "all this stuff was going on!  What do you expect??"  Yes, all that stuff was going on; irrelevant.  Again: irrelevant.  In point of fact, all those  pressures and demands that bring out the worst in us are actually an incredible benefit to us.   A defect in midos has been outed.  Chasdei HaShem!  Now that I know about it, I can work to fix it.

The point of being in this world, and truly the only point of being in this world, is to improve.  If you don't know where its broken, you can't fix it.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…