Friday, September 22, 2006

Rosh Hashana

In last week’s parsha, Nitzavim/Vayelech, we already discussed that the Torah goes through great depths to explain a mitzvah and tells us things like, “It is not far from you”, and “It is not in heaven/Lo ba’Shamayim Hee.” To summarize, Rashi holds that this mitzvah is that of Talmud Torah/learning, and these verses teach us that even though we are lowly creatures, we are still able to learn torah. However, the Rambam explains in a more timely fashion for us, telling us that this mitzvah is that of teshuva/repentance. How exactly the aforementioned verses go well with this explanation can best be described with the following story:

R’ Shimon ben Lakish, or more commonly known as Reish Lakish was a bandit in his early years. He and two buddies would go around robbing and looting. All in all, he wasn’t a great guy. But, we don’t hear about Reish Lakish in the gemara so often because he is such a bad guy. Obviously, he found the proper path at some point in life and became a respectable Jew.

At the end of their days, Reish Lakish’s buddies went to hell, and Reish Lakish went to heaven. His buddies saw that Reish Lakish was in heaven and said to Hashem, “How could we be here in hell but Shimon is up in heaven?! He robbed just as much as we did!” Hashem responded with the obvious answer, explaining to them that Reish Lakish had done teshuva and became a good guy. They then told Hashem that they wanted a piece of this teshuva stuff, to which Hashem replied, “Lo Bashamayim Hee/it is not in heaven.” Hashem explained to the friends that teshuva/repentance is something that can only be achieved on earth.

Every day, minute, second, etc, that we wait to do teshuva is one moment closer to the time that we will pass on to the next world. Every second that we wait is one closer to the point at which we will no longer be able to atone for that which we have done wrong. Let’s take this upon ourselves this Rosh Hashana so we won’t have to be begging for an impossible repentance at the end of days.

I wish to all those reading a Shana Tova and that you’re Teshuva should be teshuva shelayma/complete repentance. It should be a sweet year for you, your families, and all of Klal Yisroel. Finally, all Jewish blood that has been spilled in the past year should be redeemed speedily.

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