Tuesday, February 4, 2014

'amida (Berakha 5) The gift of repentance

כי לא תחפוץ במות המת, כי אם בשובו מדרכו וחיה 

In this berakha we ask God to assist us in the process of our teshuba (=repentance). Literally, teshuba  means "coming back", returning to the right path.  

We say in this berakha:

Bring us back, our Father, to Your Tora...

The Rabbis define sinning as temporary insanity en adam ba lide het... 'a person would not sin, unless he is possessed by a [temporary] spirit of foolishness'. When we are seized by ambition, lust, jealousy, etc. our mind is clouded. Once we recover our wisdom, as we have requested in the previous blessing, the first thing we realize is that abandoning the right path, the path of virtue, was not a good idea. Still, the way back is not always simple. Thus, we ask for divine assistance to come back to the path of the Tora. 

And bring us closer, our King, to Your service (la'abodatekha).

'aboda  is God's service. It consists in the application of what we study in the Tora. That is why we assert that first we should get back to study Tora, which would lead us to serve God. 

And make us return to You...

When we say: "bring us" , "make us",  we do not mean literally that we expect God to do these actions for us, while we remain passive.  We are in complete charge of our moral actions.  We, humans, were blessed with freedom of choice. What we are asking God is for His help, assistance and inspiration to come back to Him and His Tora.

Baruch Ata.. haRotse bitshuba.  Blessed are you, God, who desires (our) repentance. 

We assert now that God "wants" us to return to Him.  A very important Jewish principle is that God loves us like a father loves his children. As a loving father, God does not take enjoyment in punishing a bad son. All God wants from His children is for them to coming back to the right path. That is why we dare to ask God to assist us in our return to Him. We know that God "wants" our repentance, because He loves us and He desires our good.