parasha Nasso 5782 – Returning to G-d
“When a man or woman shall commit any sin that men commit, to commit a trespass against the L-RD, and that soul be guilty; then they shall confess their sin which they have done.” – Numbers 5:6-7, JPS 1917 Tanach
According to the Talmud (Pesachim 54a), G-d created teshuvah (repentance), before the creation of the world. This teaching connotes the significance of teshuvah for tikkun hanefesh (rectification of the soul), and tikkun olam (repair of the world). In light of another passage in the Talmud (Megillah 13b), that speaks of the remedy being created before the wound, teshuvah is elevated to a near panacea, capable of transforming lives.
The first person to do teshuvah (repentance), as recorded in the Torah is Yehudah. He publicly acknowledged his transgression, after realizing his guilt. Also, King David, upon hearing a mashal (parable) about a rich man who had many sheep, yet, demanded the one and only sheep of a poor person for dinner, was told by the prophet that he was that man; consequently, he immediately confessed his sin. If only we had the resolve of biblical proportion to act in a decisive way, without hesitance, in recognizing our trespasses against G-d and man.
A sincere confession is necessary to diminish the influence of the yetzer hara (evil inclination), designating past ways of transgression to the past, in order to begin anew (Maimonides). Acknowledging past mistakes, and attitudes, as well as behaviors that are not in accord with a righteous way of living is an act of character, that supplements self-improvement. “And to him that ordereth his way aright will I show the salvation of G-d” (Psalm 50:23, JPS).
To be delivered from our nisyanos (trials), requires an effort that is enhanced by G-d’s mercy. He gives us opportunity to do teshuvah, to rectify our ways, so that we may be reconciled to Him. Additionally, regardless of any overly harsh condemnation we might hold against ourselves, He will grant us clemency, when we make a sincere confession within the depths of our heart.
Yet, if we do not recognize that we are imperfect human beings, who are subject to stray from the derech (path) that G-d intends for us, then we will continue to be lost amidst a labyrinth of wrong choices, and false ways. As noted in Mesillas Yesharim (the Path of the Just), by Chaim Luzatto, we need to seek the direction of someone, who figuratively speaking, can stand in the middle of the labyrinth and point out the right path. If we seek the wisdom of G-d, then we will find the way. “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:6, JPS).