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  • Rav Moshe Weiss

Nahar U'Pashtei Parshas Nitzavim

Return Again

In Parshas Netzavim the Torah speaks about teshuvah. When we will seek out Hashem, either because of the suffering we have endured, or because of a yearning to reach a higher place. He is waiting for us, and he will shower mercy upon us. And as the great day of judgment draws closer, we are all thinking thoughts of repentance and improvement. Some because of the realization that on this day it will be decided exactly how much money we will have, and yet others because they seek spiritual growth and deveikus. But there is a nagging feeling in the back of our minds. Didn’t we do this last year? Granted, we did change over the course of the year, and there are some notable improvements we can present. But did we really become the people we repented and then pledged to become? Certainly not! We took a small step forward, and maybe even some steps backward! And this being the case, why would Hashem so readily accept our teshuvah yet again? He knows the future and knows right now, as we speak these words and strike our chests, that we will not keep our promised resolutions! How can we be confident in the power of teshuvah if we cannot offer this guarantee? And the answer, we must understand, lies in the passage we read on Rosh HaShannah. We learn about the soon to be evil Yishmael, who cried to Hashem and was saved. Hashem heard his voice ba’asher hu sham, at the madreigah he was on at that moment. Hashem, in His infinite mercy, will only judge a person on his current level, regardless of what the future may bring. The fact that hashem knows the future does not factor in. Just as Yishmael was not put to death for his future of bad choices, so it is with every person. When a person repents and truly resolves to try and put his misdeeds behind him, Hashem will not look anywhere but at his current state. This allows a person to forever return and start anew no matter how many times he has fallen. So, on the one hand, the lesson here is that teshuvah is always possible. Hashem is ready to give a person as many chances as he needs to succeed, and one should never stop trying or give in to the notion that Hashem is tired of his failures. He always judges a person on his current madreigah, and this is enough to earn him a favorable din. But perhaps a deeper message is why Hashem does so. Why does Hashem only look at a person’s current status, and not at his future mistakes? It is because Hashem knows the nature of man, and He understands our struggles. Hashem knows that greatness is not built in a day, and constant improvement is the key! So, he ordained a system where one is not punished for future mistakes. We are only judged by what is, not what will be. This creates the environment needed to grow spiritually; one where there is demand for constant growth but acceptance and improvement as well. A Gut Shabbos! A Project of the YSI Alumni Association Written by R’ Moshe Weiss


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