Thursday, February 24, 2011

Out of the Mire

Once, a certain bochur with profound yiras shamayim fell into a deep pit. At the bottom of the pit was a morass from which the boy could hardly extricate himself. As he struggled to get free he tearfully turned to Hashem and said, “Ribono Shel Olam! I know why you have arranged for me to fall into this pit: so that I do a complete teshuvah and change my ways. Well I can guarantee that it will be impossible for me to repent until I am allowed to escape from this predicament. How can I do teshuvah when my mind is so confused and I am preoccupied with my fate? Can I then do teshuvah when I am stuck in this mud? I swear that after I escape from this difficulty I will spend time alone and make a proper cheshbon hanefesh with yishuv hada’as...”
After recounting this story, Rav Sinai of Zhamograd, zt”l, explained, “This is what we mean when we petition Hashem, 'השיבנו ה' אליך ונשובה'—‘Restore us to You, Hashem, and we will return.’ Here we are in bitter exile. How can we do teshuvah which requires da’as, true understanding, of the folly of our ways? 'חדש ימינו כקדם'—‘Renew our days as of old.’ We cannot do teshuvah when we are in such dire straights far from our land, without our holy temple desolate. First Hashem must redeem us from our exile like he took us out of Egypt. When He returns us to His land and rebuilds our holy temple, then we will do proper teshuvah!”

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