Thursday, September 8, 2011

The original sin and blame displacement

In Maimonides opinion Teshuba consists of three steps:
1. hakarat hachet or, admission of our personal responsibility .
2. viduy, or confession with sincere remorse for the wrong we have done
3. azibat hachet or the resolve to abandon a bad habit.

Personally, I believe that hakarat hachet is the most difficult challenge in Teshuba. Because naturally, we tend to justify and rationalize whatever wrong we have done. Or play the oldest human game: "blame displacement".

Everyone knows that God punished Adam and Eve expelling them from Paradise. But why did He expel them? What did they do wrong? Eating from the forbidden tree?

Try this. Put on a table all kind of candies, sweets, and cakes in front of a six years old child. In the middle of the table place a simple cherry-tomato. Now, tell the child: 'You can eat whatever you want except for the tomato'. It will be only a matter of time until the child disobeys, leaves everything else and eats the tomato. The 'forbidden fruit' syndrome triggers an irresistible curiosity and desire. According to Rabbi Yosef Albo, Adam and Eve's sin was not eating from the fruit. God, he said, knew they will succumb! God wanted to train them to take charge, confess and repent for one's wrong actions. He was teaching them to do Teshuba!

Adam's real error happened when God approached him and asked him: 'What did you do?' and instead of admitting his responsibility and asking for God's forgiveness, Adam 'transferred' the blame to Eve. He said: 'the woman that You (You=God. Adam was blaming God!) placed next to me, she offered me the fruit'. Then, God approached Eve, and she said: 'It wasn't me! The serpent made me do it'.

'Blame displacement,' blaming others for our misdeeds, is probably the main obstacle for repentance, or at least the oldest one.

Rabbi Yosef Bitton.

130 Steamboat Rd. | Great Neck | NY | 11024.


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