In this week’s Parsha, Parshat Nitzavim, we read, “Ki HaMitzváh Hazot Asher Ani Metzavecha Hayom… lo Bashamáim Hi… Veló Méever Layam. Ki Karob eleja Hadabar Meod, Befija Ubilbabejá Laasotó.” “Because this Mitzvah that I am commanding to you today is not in heaven, not on the other side of the sea, it is very close to you, it in your hands and heart to do it.”
The Midrash teaches us that this verse refers to the Mitzvah of Teshuvah, repentance. It is in our hands to change and better ourselves. Regardless of the gravity of the sin, or how many times we have failed, G d receives repentance from even the person furthest from the right path.
One of the translations of the word “Teshuvah” is returning, which indicates that doing Teshuvah is actually a process of returning to G-d.
There is a famous parable about a family where the only child decided to leave the close-knit family. The family was heartbroken that their child was no longer with them. The father decided to leave the door open every day. The people thought that this was strange, and they asked him why he did this. He explained that it did not matter how far away his child was, but if someday they would like to return, that door would be open so that they could always enter. Likewise, G-d is with us, no matter how far away we are, G-d always awaits us with the door open and grants our forgiveness.
In fact, it is something we say every day in the most important prayer, the Amidah, “Vehajazirenu Bitshubá Shelemá Lefaneja,” “Return us with a complete repentance.” Although complete repentance is difficult, the first step is to recognize that we are wrong and stop doing that negative action or habit.
After we have completed this first step, we can then think about change.
How is it that a person can change after getting used to living in a certain way? The answer is reflecting and analyzing. We cannot live life as a routine just running every day. We have to stop and think about what we are doing. By pausing and reflecting we will realize what we do well and what we are doing wrong, what we should keep and what we need to change.
G d is always with us to help us, but we have to take the first step, and then we will see His help. There is a phrase that sums this up and I think it is fascinating: "The miracles of G d begin where the effort of the person ends." It is up to us to strive—as they say in Hebrew, Hischtadlut, and give our maximum; then and only then, will G-d will take care of the results.
Shelly Shayo, BBYO Mexico
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