Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Tie is Not Severed

“Rav Huna said: When a person repeats a sin, it is permitted [hutra] for him. [The gemara asks] Permitted for him—could it be?! No—it is just that, in his mind, it is as though it is permitted. (Yuma 87)”

The Shem Mishmuel zt”l explains that hutra also means to untie a knot. Every Jew is bound to our Father in heaven, but when one does a sin this connection is weakened. If one repeats the sin, the knot is severed [hutar]. But, “Could it be?” Could one ever really sever the connection between oneself and Hashem? The gemara concludes, “In his mind, it is as though it is severed.” It is as though, but it isn’t really.

One of the ways that this bond can appear to be severed is when a person indulges in depression because of his sins. Rav Noach of Lechvitch zt”l once said, “If a Jew succumbs to temptation or manifests a character defect, he must not allow himself to fall into the trap of self-absorbed despondency, but must do teshuvah instead.

“This could be compared to two servants of the king who were sent to war, one wise and the other foolish. During the battle, the wise one took a hit, but he decided that the middle of a battlefield is no place to attend to a minor wound. The foolish servant also sustained a minor injury, but he decided to immediately attend to it. He stopped shooting, became an easy target, and was killed immediately.

“Similarly, one who sustains a ‘flesh wound’ while fighting his inclination could easy fall into depression. But this will destroy his ability to focus on prayer or Torah study, his main weapons in the war! This leaves him completely vulnerable. Every soul is rooted in the olam hata’anug, the supernal world of delight, and anyone who does not feel pleasure in serving Hashem is automatically drawn after material pleasures. The only solution is to immediately change direction by doing teshuvah. This simply means resolving not to do the sin again!”

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