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Why Verbalize Our Regret?

Thursday, 20 May, 2021 - 2:35 pm

I am no political analyst, nor do I have any contacts in the higher-ups of government in the U.S.A or in Israel. But it doesn’t take much to understand that what is happening in Israel should be grabbing our attention and we should be concerned, not only for our brethren in the Holy Land of Israel, but also about how the world views the Jewish People. After all, Israel and the Jewish People are one.

 

To expect Israel not to defend itself or root out the terrorists that swore to destroy us, is to ignore the concept of Teshuva—repentance—in Judaism.

 

Before you can forgive an individual or a people, they first have to recognize that what they did was wrong.

 

Let’s look at this week’s Torah portion for some insight. The portion talks about the idea that it is not enough to have regret for an action we may have done; we have to verbalize our regret with vidu, confession. To emphasis this point, we can learn from Maimonides, the well-known codifier of Jewish law. He states, when counting the 613 mitzvot, don’t count “repentance” on its own unless it is accompanied by the verbalization of the regret of the sin.

 

Why is verbalization of the confession so important? Aren’t our heartfelt feelings what counts most? Perhaps we can just look at our actions, so why need words at all?

 

Yes, it is true that what truly matters is the feeling of the heart. Not words, as words can be empty.

 

G-d cannot command us to have a "feeling." He can tell us, though, that if we do have a feeling, we should express it openly so that the feeling is known to all. Ultimately it is about the regret that is in the heart, not about the words that are said. Yet, at the same time, it is the words that G-d commands us to say, and the feelings are what He expects us to have.

At the end of the day, we need to know that although Teshuva is an overarching principle in Judaism, it is not enough to just think it—we have to act on it, we have to show the world that we mean it, and then we can start the process of Teshuva by speaking aloud of our regret.

 

As long as the enemies of Israel do not clearly state their recognition that the Jews have a right to live in Israel and have a land of their own, how can we even have a conversation? What kind of regret do they have? All they want is to stop the destruction that Israel is causing them. That is not peace. Peace comes after there is sincere Teshuva. When one realizes their errors, the conversation can continue.

 

What is true in our own life is true on the world stage. What is true in the world, is true in our own little world as well.

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