Life Lessons with Judy Simon
Before making Aliyah to Israel, Tzvi Fishman was a Hollywood screenwriter. He has co-authored 4 books with Rabbi David Samson, based on the teachings of Rabbi Kook, Eretz Yisrael, Art of T'shuva, War and Peace, and Torat Eretz Yisrael.
When sufferings befall the Jewish Nation, there is a mitzvah to sound trumpets and cry out to G-d for salvation. Today, when missiles are falling in the north and the south, and when our soldiers are in moment to moment danger, we are beholden to cry out to Hashem in repentance, as the Rambam writes:
“And this is one of the courses of repentance, that when tribulations befall the nation, and when the nation cries out and sound trumpets, everyone must know that the evil has come upon them because of their wicked deeds, as it is written, ‘Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withheld good things from you’ (Yirmeyahu, 5:25). And this (recognition of their evil ways) is what will cause the tribulations to depart from them. But if they will not cry out to G-d and not sound the trumpets, but say instead that this situation is just the normal ups and downs of life, nothing more than mere happenstance – behold this is the way of cruel arrogance that will bring them to cleave to their wicked behaviors. And it will bring further tribulation. This is what is written in the Torah: ‘And if you walk contrary with me, then I will walk contrary to you also in fury, and will chastise you seven times for your sins.’ That is to say, when I bring tribulation upon you in order that you shall return to Me in repentance, if you say that what has befallen us is mere happenstance, then I will pour out my anger upon you in a happenstance manner as well” (Rambam, Laws of Fasts, Ch. 1:2-3).
Two types of repentance are involved in this mitzvah – national repentance, and the personal repentance of each individual Jew. As a nation, we have to repent for adopting the ways of the gentiles, for not conquering all of the Land of Israel, for surrender parts of our homeland to foreigners, for not expelling the enemy from our borders, and for lingering in the lands of the gentiles long after Hashem has allowed us to come home.
Personally, in order to avert further tribulation and appease Hashem’s anger, each and every Jew must repent for his individual wrongdoings, citing them one by one, in true remorse, with the commitment to turn from his, or her, evil ways and return to the paths of the Torah. Anyone who does not do this weakens the war effort and gives strength to Israel’s enemies.
For people who have trouble getting started, here’s an example:
“Please, G-d, from the bottom of my heart, I ask for Your forgiveness. Forgive me for all of my sins, those that I remember, and those that I don’t recall because they are so numerous, or because they happened long ago. Forgive me for eating non-kosher food. Forgive me for not keeping the Sabbath. Forgive me for not studying Torah when I had the free time. Forgive me for not honoring my parents. Forgive me for stealing. Forgive me for all of my sexual transgressions – for masturbating, for having pre-marital sex, for committing adultery, for having relations with a non-Jew, for not guarding the laws of family purity, for gazing lewdly at women and watching forbidden sites on the Internet and for violating the commandment ‘not to stray after your hearts and your eyes.’ Forgive me for speaking badly about other Jews. Forgive me for getting angry. Forgive me for being arrogant. Forgive me for not keeping Your commandments and for not serving You in joy….
If you haven’t done so already, why not do it now? Find a quiet corner and pour out your heart before G-d. Our soldiers are putting their life on the line in Gaza for us. This is the least we can do for them.