Sunday, September 21, 2008
tshuvah and kochi v'otzem yadi
I rescued a nearly new copy of Chayei Mohara"N that I saw deposited in sheimos (I know what you Litvaks are thinking... ) and in the back there are a few pages called Sheva Amudei Emunach composed by R' Yitzchok Breiter which taken by themselves would have been worthy of rescue. One yesod which he writes regarding the idea of tshuvah is startling. When we think of tshuvah we imagine a person coming to the realization that he/she has not been acting as the Torah requires , deciding to improve his/her behavior, and in turn, assuming this change for the better will draw him/her closer to Hashem. Says R’ Yitzchok Breiter, such thoughts of tshuvah contain mixed within them the essential germ of all kefira, which is thinking “kochi v’otzem yadi”. Lack of success in avodas Hashem is not only because a person is not trying hard enough, and conversely success in avodah is not just about changing behavior to conform to a higher standard. These assumptions in effect say we are the ba’alim of Hashem’s relationship with us, whether for good or bad - kochi v'otzem yadi controls the entire dynamic! Tshuvah means accepting that we are not the ba’alim. Yeridos and obstacles are part of Hashem’s plan, and the reason we might not be successful is because (for whatever) reason Hashem has chosen not to give us success at this moment. In addition to changing our behavior, tshuvah demands heartfelt tefilah asking that Hashem, the true ba’alim, bring about a change in His relationship with us and allow us to draw closer.