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: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…