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Overriding Hashem?

Written by Rabbi Yehoshua Alt, 19/1/2020

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Overriding Hashem?

The weeks of , , , , , are a special period to do Teshuva and as it says , do Teshuva my wayward sons.[1] In fact, is rooted in the word . is rooted in which is an acronym for , happy when they leave and come, as is a happy time because we can attain atonement for our sins. Rabbeinu Chananel[2] (990-1053) says that the statement of Chazal of Teshuva is so great that it reaches the refers to sin that reaches the . Teshuva can gain atonement even for such sins.


The Pasuk states -,[3] become a ruler over men, a righteous one, who rules through the fear of Hashem. R Tzadok Hakohen quotes a most astounding interpretation of his Rebbe, the Izbitzer:[4] one can rule over the Tzadik R Shimon Bar Yochai who said Teshuva doesnt help for . That is, dont listen to this and do Teshuva anyway! Furthermore, -, one can do Teshuva even if Hashem says Teshuva wont help. If one does Teshuva in such a situation it will be accepted! This is in line with the explanation of the Shela in ,[5] whatever the host tells you, do, except when he says go out.  The same applies to life that we must listen to Hashem except when He says . What about in the case of where he heard a that said return wayward sons except for ?[6] That itself was the test meaning not to listen to the and do Teshuva anyway.[7]


The Gemara[8] says , return wayward sons except for . This can also be understood that during these days of there is an opening for teshuva even to one who already did damage () and is called and are , outside the sanctuary of Kedusha.[9]


The Mishna states ... ..., one who says I will sin and then do Teshuvahe is not given the opportunity to do Teshuva.[10] R Pinchas Koritzer interprets this in a different light: at times one may say why should I do Teshuva since I know I will sin again ( ).[11] Yet, if this person says I will do what is in my power and do Teshuva, then ,[12] there is no doubt he can do Teshuva and in the end he will ascend to great levels.[13] So, one who says if he sins he will do Teshuvano matter how many times he sins, then there is no doubt , that he will succeed in doing Teshuva. 


The following incredible account is recorded in the Sefer Taamai Haminhagim.[14] A , completely wicked person once jokingly asked R Moshe De-Leoin (1240 1305) if there is any remedy for his sins. He was told the only atonement is to accept upon yourself the judgement of death as an atonement for your sins. He then asked if he does that, will he receive a portion in Gan Eden to which the answer was yes. He asked R Moshe to swear to him that he should have a place in Gan Eden in his vicinity. And so he swore to him. Among other things, this was then blindfolded and was told to confess his sins to Hashem and accept upon himself the yoke of Hashem completely in addition to accepting upon himself death in exchange for his sins. He followed the procedure and he wept bitterly. There was a gathering of elderly and Talmidei Chachamim there and they said he should open his mouth and we will throw some lead so that he will die. He then opened his mouth in compliance with this without objection. Then a full spoonful of honey was thrown into his mouth and the Pasuk ,[15] your iniquity is removed and your sin eliminated, was recited. The Baal Teshuva screamed bitterly, Rebbi why did you deceive me, kill me and I wont see my destruction. Why should I desire to live after all the sins Ive done? R Moshe said dont fear because Hashem has already accepted your actions. From that time onward he didnt stop learning and for the remainder of his life he did Teshuva. His Rebbi, R Moshe, eventually died. The Baal Teshuva cried bitterly that his Rebbi was taken and he davened that he should follow suit since he now had no Rebbi to guide him. Hashem heard his Tefila and he fell ill. When his death was imminent he began to scream I am coming to fulfill my Rebbis oath. He then died. After he died many elders and greats saw through a dream how this Baal Teshuva was sitting next to his Rebbi in Gan Eden learning together with him!   


It is written in the Sefer Chovas Halvavos[16] that if one finds it difficult to do Teshuva for example from a type of theft or the like, if he takes upon himself all the essentials and conditions of Teshuva within his power and ability, Hashem pardons him. If one injured his friends reputation, Hashem will kindle feelings of goodwill and friendship in the heart of his friend so that he will forgive him. If one doesnt know who he wronged or the amount of money embezzled, Hashem will enable him to contribute money to projects for general welfare such as building bridges


To what extent does one need to do Teshuva? ' -[17]one needs to do Teshuva until he realizes that only Hashem rules the world.

Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R Mordechai Friedlander Ztzl for close to five years. He received Semicha from R Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

[1] Yirmiya 3:14.

[2] Yoma 86b, s.v. . R Chananel died in 1055 in Tunisia, leaving over 9 daughters (he had no sons). In addition to his commentary which is printed on the side of the Gemara, he also wrote a commentary on the Torah. In his profession, he was a successful businessman which led him to great wealth.

[3] Shmuel 2, 23:3.

[4] Pri Tzadik, Vayigash 3, p. 447.

[5] Pesachim 86b.

[6] Chagiga 15a. The Midrash (Devarim Rabba 2:12) says that the gates of Teshuva are always opened.

[7] See Maharsha to Chagiga 15a, s.v. and Igra Dpirka, 1.

[8] Chagiga 15a.

[9] Shearis Yisrael, Shaar Shovivim, Drush 1.

[10] Yoma 85b. The Tanya explains this to mean that Hashem doesnt help the sinner giving him the auspicious occasion for Teshuva. However, he can still do Teshuva (Tanya Chapter 25). See Rambam, Hilchos Teshuva 4:6.

[11] See Pri Tzadik, Vayelech VShabbos Teshuva, 8.

[12] The Shefa Chaim remarks that R Akiva (who comments ..., just like a Mikva purifies the contaminated) at the end of this Mishna argues on what was said previously. The beginning of the Mishna stated that one who says I will sin and then do Teshuvacant do Teshuva. R Akiva argues and says that one can do Teshuva in such a case. This is just as by a Mikva which purifies the impure even if they were already and did in a Mikva and repeated this process many times. This applies even if this occurred 1,000 times. Likewise, Hashem purifies Jews, even 1,000 times.

[13] At an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, someone once said that the man I was, drank, but not the man I am today.

[14] p. 323.

[15] Yeshaya 6:7.

[16] Shaar HaTeshuva, chapter 10. It was with the Sefer Chovas Halvavos that the Chassam Sofer would start his Gemara Shiur with. This Sefer was originally written in Arabic.

[17] Hoshea 14:2. 

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