Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Air We Breathe, The Water We Drink, The Teshuvah We Do

Though this world is a "mask" of the spirituality inherent in all of creation, there are some hints that this universe is run by a Creator that can't necessarily be "seen". Essential components to continued survival include such common things as oxygen and water. Oxygen and water are much more common than the "monetarily more valuable" items such as diamonds and gold. Yet these easy to come by products are necessary for continued existence (barring an open miracle). Without oxygen, one would not be able to live for more than several minutes. Without water, life on earth would die out after a short time, Heaven Forbid. What is common about both of these items is that they are clear. Oxygen can't be seen. Water can be seen, but only because the speed of light changes as it passes through the water. If one were to realize that just as the "invisible" oxygen and water are necessary components of life, so too, how much more so would life not be possible without the constant sustenance of G-d.

Teshuvah: A Return to The Source of Life:

Similar to one making sure they regularly breathe, not daring to step into an area with unsafe air, one should avoid, to the best of their capabilities, distancing themselves from the Creator of the Universe, The Source of Life. If one needs improvement in any of their character traits and/or their performance of the Torah and rabbinic laws, they should give it their all to overcome their inclinations that entice one to sin or be lax in performance of Jewish law. This is what teshuvah is; a return to HaShem.

There is a major difference between one who denies himself oxygen and/or water and one who is a sinner. One who denies himself oxygen and/or water will not live too much longer (barring a major miracle), however, one who denies himself the way of the Torah and stays far from HaShem may live many years as a sinner, HaShem provides the sinner with many years of life-giving power.

The Kindness of HaShem:

In the book of Yechezkhel (ch. 18), we learn how much HaShem desires that His Creations do teshuvah and return to Him. HaShem says to Yechezkhel, (Yechezkhel: 18; 21 - 23):

"And the evildoer, when he repents from all of his sins which he did, and guards all of My ordinances, and he does justice and righteousness, he shall surely live, he will not die: All of his willful transgressions which he did will not be remembered for him, with the righteousness that he did he will live: 'Do I desire the death of the evildoers?' so says HaShem Elokim, Is it not when he returns from his path [(of sin)], and he shall live:"

Clearly, HaShem wishes that the sinner (as well as those who are ignorant of the ways of the Torah) to return to following the Torah - the guidebook to life.

Teshuvah Protects One From Danger:

We are currently coming close to the end of the Jewish period of mourning, G-d Willing this will be the last year of mourning, next year this time being a period of great celebration. However, currently the Jewish People find itself in a situation, that, without the Help of HaShem would be hopeless. Hezbollah terrorists, Lebanon's unofficial army, has fired approximately 2,000 missiles into Israel over the past twenty days (approximately 100 missiles daily). As a result, at least 300,000 people from northern Israel fled their homes and the Israeli army is in the process of killing the Amalekite army of Hezbollah. Furthermore, Iran is trying to put the finishing touches on their nuclear program, hoping to carry out their oft-stated goal of wiping the Jewish State off the map. Of course, threats of annihilation against the Jewish People are nothing new, for, as we say at the Pesach seder, "In each generation they stand upon us to destroy us, and The Holy One, Blessed is He, saves us from their hands". In a way, however, this threat posed by Iran and her allies against the Jewish People may be very unique. In gemara Sanhedrin (97b) we learn that if the Jewish People do not do teshuvah on their own, HaShem will bring forth a leader with decrees as harsh as those of Haman (may his name be blotted out) and the Jewish People will then do teshuvah. The current day Haman is the president of Iran. He wants to lob some nuclear missiles into Israel wipe out a large chunk of the Jewish People, Heaven Forbid. However, he will not succeed for "The Holy One Blessed is He will save us from" his hands. However, each of us should follow the call of Rabbi Lazer Brody where he continuously calls for repentance of the Jewish People. This situation in Israel, it is important to note, is not limited to Jews living in Israel but effects Jews all over the world. Similarly, each of us have the blessing of Ya'akov - the power of prayer. With our teshuvah and prayer, our enemies will drop dead at our feet, G-d Willing.

Water: A Life Giving Force and a Life Taking Force:

In the book of Yeshayahu, there are two verses that refer to water and individuals. One verse (1; 7) discusses "zarim" in reference to destructive flooding waters and evildoers. The other verse (30; 20) refers to the live-giving early rains and teachers of Torah - "morecha". From this we can learn an important lesson: The Torah is compared to water, while evil is also compared to water. However, evil takes from the truth of the Torah and perverts it in order to cause destruction like a tsunami, while the Torah is life-giving water. Let us do teshuvah and hold on to the life-giving water. Once we do that, say bye to our enemies.


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