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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.


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