Dec 2, 2008

Blessings of Repentance & Forgiveness

  • Mrs. Raizy Guttman
  • May this learning be in memory of Tzirel Gittel b-s Shaindel Esther
  • This is the blessing of Repentance.
  • It comes right after the blessing for wisdom.
  • This is because true repentance can only come through wisdom. When you are wise enough to recognize and admit that you did wrong, you can do proper tshuva [repentance].
    The whole purpose of learning/wisdom is to bring you closer to G-d. The closer you get, the more you realize how far away you really are.
  • “True wisdom is knowing that you know nothing”
  • Learning for it’s own sake
  • The gemara [Talmud] says that the Bais Hamikdash [Holy Temple] was destroyed because the people were not making the blessing over the Torah. Why is this enough of a reason to destroy the Temple? Because it shows that they lacked a love for Torah.
    They were not learning for Hashem [G-d]. They were learning because that’s what everyone else was doing.
  • We often find ourselves learning now because of “peer pressure” when we should really be learning just to be close to G-d.
  • Hashivenu Avinu L’sorasecha” Bring us back our Father to Your Torah.
  • Rav Avigdor Miller tells us that the wording of “Bring us back” means that we were once there. You can’t return to a place that you haven’t been to yet. This tells us that we each have a place in Torah no matter where we are in life.
  • Avinu/father has the root word of AV. Which relates to Ahava/love. This is because the greatest expression of G-ds love for us as the ultimate Father is to give us His Torah.
  • “Bring us close, our King, to Your service”
  • The service refers to two things:
  • Prayer
  • Service in all the commandments
  • We refer to G-d as our King, which makes us then His servants. It is a special privilege to work in the King’s castle.
  • Vhachzirenu B’tshuva shelaima lifanecha” Return us in full repentance before you”
  • A classic debate in Judaic literature: We say to Hashem [G-d], “Bring us back!” and Hashem [G-d] says to us “If you come back to Me, I’ll bring you back!” So whose going to make the first move?
  • The answer is that WE have to take the first tiny step and we ask Hashem [G-d]to help us in that process. So in reality we are both fulfilling our sides of the ‘deal’.
  • Elazar ben Dodaya
    Was the sort of man who did every sin you could imagine. He did everything wrong. At one point he finally woke up and realized “Whats going to become of me?” So he went around to all different parts of the world begging for help. He asks the sun, moon, stars, oceans etc to be his emissary and they all tell him that they can’t. He finally realizes that repentance is only up to him. At that point he cries out remorse until he dies. A heavenly voice calls out “Rabbi Elazar ben Dodaya has a place in the world to come!”
  • Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi said “There are people who acquire a place in the world to come in one second!”
  • Vshavta Ad Hashem Elokecha” "Return until your G-d, Hashem." Rabbi Blumenkrantz says this means “Return until Hashem becomes your G-d.” We have to do tshuva [repentance] until we build our relationship with G-d.
  • All G-d wants is a little bit of effort!
  • “Big things show ability, small things show quality!” –Rabbi Levine
  • This is the only blessing that ends off with the words “Blessed are you G-d, who desires repentance” This is the only blessing that ends with the wording of desire. That’s because all G-d wants is for us to come back to Him!
  • We should always strive to be “Ba’alei Tshuva” People who are constantly returning to G-d.
  • Steps of true repentance are:
    Step One: Regret.
    Step Two: leave the sin
    Step three: verbal confession
    Step four: taking upon myself to not do the sin again
  • G-d waits for a person to repent.
  • It’s never too late to do tshuva [repentance].
  • G-d sends us small [and big] messages to bring us back to Him.
  • He only desires repentance.

  • Next blessing: Blessing of Forgiveness

    · Without repentance, there is no forgiveness
    · We say “forgive us our Father, for we certainly did sin” “Forgive us our King we have committed acts of rebellion”
    o We ask to be forgiven for different types of sins through different sort of relationships.
    · We ask to be forgiven for sins that we did not realize were so bad. We ask for G-d to overlook these sins like a father overlooks things.
    · We ask for G-d to wipe out our sins that we did on purpose, or through rebellion. We knew they were wrong but did them anyway.
    o Just like a king can give a royal pardon, we ask G-d to Royally pardon us as the King of the world.
    · G-d takes sins and changes them to good deeds!!
    · We have the power to do this as well!
    o As long as our repentance is out of love for G-d.
    o We say “We love You and want to do Your will!”
    · It is a great gift that we have such a power of tshuva [repentance].
    · We say “G-d, you graciously grant the requests that are made of you”
    · G-d increases His forgiveness to the point that He makes the sins into mitzvos [positive commandments]!
    · What a great thing that we can fix up our mistakes and change everything bad that we did into great things and get reward for that!

    You’ve got Questions? She’s got answers!

    Q: When we’re asking for forgiveness, by just asking does that mean we’re forgiven? How do you know you’re forgiven?
    A: If a person does those four steps of tshuva [repentance], then you know you’re forgiven. He can be assured that his tshuva [repentance] is accepted. As an interesting point, this only applies to a sin between man and G-d. Regret, leaving the sin, verbal confession, and accepting not to do the sin in the future. But if a person sins between man and man; then they have to go through those four steps of tshuva [repentance] and ask the person for forgiveness as well.

    Q: How do you ask for forgiveness for things that would bring up old hurts?
    A: The Rabbis say that in such a case you should definitely not mention the thing that wronged the person. You can ask for forgiveness in a vague way, either by Yom Kippur [Day of Atonement], through a letter or even through a messenger.

    Q: What if someone did something that they don’t think is the wrong thing?
    A: That’s very hard because a person can’t do tshuva [repentance] for something that they don’t realize is wrong. First there needs to be regret. There is a mitzvah in the Torah to help a person understand that they are doing something wrong, if you are in the position of being able to educate that person. If you can’t do anything to help a person realize that what they’re doing is wrong, the best thing that you can do for them is to pray for them.

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