Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Teshuba of a King

Maimonides explains the difficulties of admitting that we have sinned (4:4). Taking charge of our misdeeds -hakarat haChet- is probably the hardest step in the process of Teshuba. In the days before Rosh haShana, we are expected to act as our own judges, and evaluate objectively and responsibly our past actions. Objectivity, goes against our human nature, which pushes us to justify our actions and act as our own advocates.

David haMelekh committed a terrible sin, when he took bat-sheba, a married woman and sent her husband to the battlefront. David did not repent by his own conscience. Natan, the prophet, was sent by God to admonish David, and help him realize the seriousness of the sin he committed. Natan presented David, who in his capacity as a King was also the supreme Judge of Israel, with a (fictitious) case: A rich man owned thousands of animals. His neighbor, very poor, had only one lamb. One day, the rich man received a guest. In order to save one of his own sheep, the rich man decided to steal and slaughter his neighbor's sole lamb, which he dearly loved. As Natan had expected, the King reacted angrily. David said: "That man (the rich guy) deserves to die!" Natan the prophet then turned to David and said: atta ha-ish.... "You are that man!". Faced now with the objective facts, and with the sentence he issued as a judge 'against himself' , David repented and admitted: 'chattati laHashem...' , 'I have sinned against God'.

For these transgressions, David was not permitted to build the bet-hamiqdash, but God accepted his Teshuba. Part of the credit goes to Natan who opened the King's eyes helping him to evaluate his actions objectively, allowing him to free himself from this form of psychological self-defense.

Rabbi Yosef Bitton.

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Click here to read: "Why Obama is Losing the Jewish vote". By Dan Senor, from WSJ.