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  • Rav Moshe Weiss

Nahar U'Pashtei Parshas Devarim

Returning Out of Love

We have spent much time speaking about the sin of the Meraglim and how it changed the course of history. Hashem was ready to bring His chosen nation into the Promised Land and build the Bais HaMikdash. And we are taught that the holiness of a Sanctuary built by Moshe would have been so great that it would never have been destroyed! Of course, this would come with tremendous responsibility, and we know it is ultimately not what happened, for our own benefit. But at that moment, Hashem’s plan for humanity was finally coming to fruition! And then it all came crashing down. Klal Yisroel’s inability to trust in Hashem and fearlessly conquer the land created the first Tisha B’Av, and the sufferings have not yet ceased. Klal Yisrael went from the highest madreigah; when they were on the precipice of eternal redemption from their exile, back to the beginning. What I would like to point out at this time is something interesting which we find here in Parshas Devarim that may not be so clear in the pesukim of Parshas Shelach. When Moshe reviews the events that occurred after the nation sinned, in pasuk 41, he states clearly that the intention of the nation was to do teshuvah for their mistake. Then you spoke up and said to me, “We have sinned to Hashem! We shall go up and do battle according to everything that Hashem, our God, has commanded us!” The clear intention here was repentance and a firm resolve to follow Hashem’s command. Which begs the question; why in fact was this teshuvah not accepted? This was perhaps the greatest generation in Klal Yisrael’s history; those who witnessed Yetzias Mitzrayim, Krias Yam Suf, and were physically present at the great revelation on Har Sinai! Why did Hashem not heed their cries and instead punished them with death; choosing instead to raise a new generation of their offspring and bring them to Eretz Yisroel? Now, assuming that the Meraglim was not on the same level of sin as the Egel, where full forgiveness was unfortunately impossible, there may well be another important lesson here for us to learn. As we know, there are two ways that one can return in repentance unto Hashem. The first is teshuvah m’yirah, repentance born of fear. When one feels suffering, or sees the great opportunity he has missed out on, and this spurs him to repentance, he is exhibiting teshuvah m’yira. His madreigah does not grow, and in fact his internal deficiencies may not change at all. He just glimpsed a bit of the truth and was inspired to repent. Of course, this is also a form of teshuvah, but many times it does not bode well for the future. On the other hand, there is also teshuvah m’ahavah, repentance out of love. Here, a person realized that he ruins his relationship with Hashem with his actions and repents because his only wish is to please his Maker. He constantly works to eradicate the shortcomings that created this lapse and builds anew on the foundation of his past mistake. After Klal Yisroel sinned with the spies and were presented with the death sentence, they immediately changed their tone, and expressed willingness and even eagerness to fight for Eretz Yisroel. But it was not enough. This repentance was based on fear, and was not what Hashem desired in his nation. Teshuvah m’yirah could not carry us up to the madreigah we needed to be on to merit the eternal Redemption, because this type of repentance does not truly eradicate the root of evil within. Let this be a lesson for us as we may perhaps sit and mourn another Tisha B’Av . Our shortcomings will not disappear with just any repentance. Hashem wants us to really improve, to uproot the evil in our hearts! We must change our course, and reshape our priorities. And if we do this, we will truly be fit to experience the Geulah, A Gut Shabbos! A Project of the YSI Alumni Association Written by R’ Moshe Weiss


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