The Beauty and Power of Tshuva

Tshuva - "repentance" - has the power to change the world.

Dr. Joseph Frager,

Torah scroll
Torah scroll
Rachael Cerrotti - Flash 90

R' Chiya bar Abba said in the name of R' Yochanan: "As the prophets prophesied only about the reward for Baalei Tshuva (Penitents) but the reward for the completely righteous, no eye except yours, O G-d has seen."

And R' Abahu said in the name of Rav, "Where Baalei Tshuva stand there the righteous do not stand." (Rashi says on this latter statement the level of Baalei Tshuva is so exalted that no one else can stand in their division (in Gan Eden)) (Sanhedrin 99a) The Baal Tshuva is also elevated above the Tzaddik in Berachot 34b.

The Gemara in Yoma 86b states that if one repents out of love for G-d even his sinful deeds are counted as meritorious (as merits). In Yechezkel 33:16 G-d's remark to the Prophet that when a person repents after committing sins, "He shall live on account of them" suggests he will earn merit even for his misdeeds.

The Rambam counts the act of doing Tshuva as one of the 613 Mitzvot. The Haftorah for Parshat Shoftim states, "Wake up, Wake up! Don your strength, O Zion, Don the garments of your splendor O Jerusalem, the Holy City. For no longer shall there enter into you any uncircumcised (Arael) or contaminated person (V'Tamaei)."(Isaiah 52:1) Wake up, Wake up! can easily refer to doing Tshuva. Rav Tzadok says "Arael" does not refer to the Jew but to Esau and the "Tamei" relates to Yismael. The time will come when Esau and Yishmael's corrupt ideologies will no longer bring the Jew down or hurt him. Their ways lead to destruction (Kaleim).

In Parshat Shoftim G-d commands the Jewish people to appoint a King when they come to Eretz Yisrael. "You shall surely set over yourself a King whom Hashem, your G-d shall choose: from among your brethren shall you set a King over yourself; you cannot place over yourself a foreign man, who is not your brother."(17:15) The Shem MiShmuel points out that each Jew is considered a King and all the general laws pertaining to the Jewish King apply to all Jews.

I would like to develop this idea in relation to Elul, the new month was just greeted in anticipation of Rosh Hashanah. I began by stating that a Baal Tshuva is considered at least according to R'Abahu greater than a Frum from birth Tzaddik.

I will now tie Tshuva together with Kingship. We say in the Pesukim of Malchiot of Mussaf of Rosh Hashanah a Pasuk uttered by Bilaam: "He gazes at no iniquity in Jacob and sees no evil schemes in Israel; Hashem his G-d is with him, and the affection of the King is in him." ("Uteruat Melech Bo") (Bamidbar 23:21) It means that the friendship of the King of Kings (Hashem) is upon us the Jewish People. The Gemara says all of Bila'am's ideas for curses were turned into Blessings. This Bracha using the word "Melech" was supposed to be a curse, that which Tosafot tells us in Brachot 7a was the word "Kaleim" which means literally, "destroy them".

The letters for the word Melech and the word Kaleim-"Mem", "Lamed", and "Kof" are the same but in reverse. Rav Moshe Shapiro explains they are both acronyms for very different ideologies. "Kaleim" which means destruction is an ideology of Physicality highlighted by Esau (the Romans) and Yishmael (Muslims). Hashem switched Bilaam's corrupt ideology into the Blessing of "Melech" where the "Moach" (Brain) leads the way not the "Kaveid" ("the Kof") which relates to the body and Physicality. The ultimate Human Melech is Moshiach Ben Dovid. Dovid was the ultimate Baal Tshuva. The Gemara in Avoda Zara (5a) says "Hakim Oleh Shel Tshuva"(He established or raised the yoke of Teshuva). His Tshuva was accepted by G-d, Almighty and his Kingship was guaranteed for Eternity.

This connects well with the Gemara in Yoma 86b that if one regrets out of love of G-d as King David did even his sinful deeds (whether his deeds were technically Halachically sins is debated in the Gemara) are counted as meritorious. The month of Elul stands for "Ani Ledodi Vedodi Li" "I am for my beloved and my beloved is for me". King Solomon used this expression in his Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs) because the word "Dod" is the same word as "Dovid". The Arabic for the word Dovid more approximates the proper pronunciation of the word "Dovid". In Arabic it is "Daud". The word "Dod" in the Song of Songs is a reference to Solomon's Father- King David. The love King Solomon had for his Father knew no bounds.

The love of a King for his People should be be similar and in King David's and King Solomon's case it was. Just as G-d loves the Jewish people ("the friendship of the King (Hashem) is upon us"(quote from Bila'am-Bamidbar (23:21)) so too the Kings and Leaders of Israel must love the Jewish People. The Modern Day Leaders of the Jewish People must have unconditional and boundless love for their constituents. The Haftorah for Parshat Shoftim in the Posuk quoted above, "Wake up, wake up! Don your strength, O Zion..." now comes full circle.

Do Tshuva! Love G-d with all your heart and soul. The forces of corruption, of "Kaleim", Esau and Yishmael will be defeated and Melech Moshiach Ben Dovid will prevail. This is Isaiah's message (52:1) which is read after the Parsha of Shoftim. Parshat Shoftim establishes Kingship in the Land of Israel, the Haftorah teaches the proper way to maintain it. Shabbat Shalom. In memory to my beloved Zaida- Zalman Yehuda Ben R' Dovid Aryeh Z'L and mt beloved Aunt- Breinas Bat Zalman Yehuda, Z'L.