<I>Nitzavim-Vayelech</I>: Return and Repentance

Does the redemption of the Jewish people of Israel depend upon their prior repentance or not?

Aloh Naaleh,

Judaism aliyah-r.jpg
Arutz 7
Next Shabbat, Jews all over the globe will usher in Rosh Hashanah 5767, which begins the Ten Days of Penitence. This is the period set aside for reflection, for introspection, for asking ourselves serious questions about who we are, what our value system is, and what guides our lives.

Rabbi Mordechai Grinberg, Rosh HaYeshivah of Kerem B'Yavneh, in his recently published work Kerem L'Shlomo, cites the Talmudic discussion in Sanhedrin 97b regarding three verses in this week's parashah. The Torah states in Chapter 30, Verse 2: "And you will return to the Lord, your God." Then, in Verse 3, "...the Lord... will gather you from all the peoples wherein you have been scattered." And finally, in Verse 10, "...if you will turn unto the Lord your God." The discussion revolves around the difference of opinion between Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua regarding the sequence of events. Does the redemption of the Jewish people of Israel depend upon their prior repentance or not?

According to Rabbi Yehoshua, the first verse relates to repentance that will result from the difficult events in the life of the people; whereas, the last verse relates to repentance resulting from the desire of the people to return to God out of love and attachment, rather than out of fear.

Rabbi Yehoshua further adds that the first verse relates not only to a return to God, but also to a return to Eretz Israel out of desperation and suffering in the lands of the Diaspora. The last verse relates to a return to Eretz Israel out of a love and longing for the Holy Land.

In our time, we have seen both expressions of Aliyah - those who have returned to Eretz Israel because of oppression, and those who have returned out of an inner love of the Land.

During the coming Days of Penitence, while contemplating the need to return to God, maybe we ought to consider not only who we are, but where we are, as well.
Rabbi Zev, his wife Chany and their four young children fulfilled the mitzvah of Aliyah in July 1969, after 10 years on the staff of Yeshiva University. After Aliyah, he was the director of the Yeshiva and Judaic Studies Department of the Ministry of Absorption, and is now retired after serving as the director of the Pincus Fund.