Day 20: Corrosive Habits

Day 20:Corrosive Habits

Sunday, September 10, 2017 English Translation Follows

י״ט אלול

4.4

וּמֵהֶן חֲמִשָּׁה דְּבָרִים הָעוֹשֶׂה אוֹתָן אֵין חֶזְקָתוֹ לָשׁוּב מֵהֶן, לְפִי שְׁהֶן דְּבָרִים קַלִּים בְּעֵינֵי רֹב הָאָדָם, וְנִמְצָא חוֹטֶא וְהוּא יְדַמֶּה שְׁאֵין זֶה חֵטְא; וְאֵלּוּ הֶן: (א) הָאוֹכֵל מִסְּעוֹדָה שְׁאֵינָהּ מַסְפֶּקֶת לִבְעָלֶיהָ–שֶׁזֶּה אֲבַק גָּזֵל, וְהוּא מְדַמֶּה שֶׁלֹּא חָטָא וְיֹאמַר כְּלוּם אָכַלְתִּי אֵלָא בִּרְשׁוּתָן. (ב) וְהַמִּשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בַּעֲבוֹטוֹ שֶׁלֶּעָנִי–שֶׁהַעֲבוֹט שֶׁלֶּעָנִי אֵינוּ אֵלָא כְּגוֹן קֻרְדֹּם וּמַחְרֵשָׁה, וְיֹאמַר בְּלִבּוֹ אֵינָן חֲסֵרִים, וַהֲרֵי לֹא גָזַלְתִּי אוֹתוֹ. (ג) וְהַמִּסְתַּכֵּל בָּעֲרָיוֹת–מַעֲלֶה עַל דַּעְתּוֹ שְׁאֵין בְּכָּךְ כְּלוּם, שְׁהוּא אוֹמֵר וְכִי בָּעַלְתִּי אוֹ קָרַבְתִּי; וְהוּא אֵינוּ יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁרְאִיַּת הָעֵינַיִם עָווֹן גָּדוֹל, שְׁהִיא גּוֹרֶמֶת לְגוּפָן שֶׁלָּעֲרָיוֹת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר “וְלֹא-תָתוּרוּ אַחֲרֵי לְבַבְכֶם” (במדבר טו,לט). (ד) וְהַמִּתְכַּבֵּד בִּקְלוֹן חֲבֵרוֹ–אוֹמֵר בְּלִבּוֹ שְׁאֵינוּ חֵטְא, לְפִי שְׁאֵין חֲבֵרוֹ עוֹמֵד וְלֹא הִגִּיעָה לוֹ בֹּשֶׁת, וְלֹא בִיְּשׁוֹ אֵלָא עָרַךְ מַעֲשָׂיו הַטּוֹבִים וְחָכְמָתוֹ לְמוּל מַעֲשֶׂה חֲבֵרוֹ אוֹ חָכְמָתוֹ, כְּדֵי שֶׁיֵּרָאֶה מִכְּלָלָן שְׁהוּא מְכֻבָּד וַחֲבֵרוֹ בָּזוּי. (ה) וְהַחוֹשֵׁד כְּשֵׁרִים–אוֹמֵר בְּלִבּוֹ שְׁאֵינוּ חֵטְא, לְפִי שְׁהוּא אוֹמֵר מַה עָשִׂיתִי לוֹ, וְכִי יֵשׁ שָׁם אֵלָא חֲשָׁד שֶׁמֶּא עָשָׂה אוֹ לֹא עָשָׂה, וְהוּא אֵינוּ יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁזֶּה עָווֹן שֶׁמֵּשִׂים אָדָם כָּשֵׁר בְּדַעְתּוֹ כְּבַעַל עֲבֵרוֹת.

And there are five things that we assume a person cannot normally rectify through teshuvah, because they are things that most people do not take seriously, and people sin without realizing it. These are they:

1) One who eats as a guest at the table of a host who cannot afford the meal. This is a minor form of theft. The guest feels that it is no sin, saying, “I did not eat anything without the permission of the host.”

2) One who uses the collateral of a poor person, such as a shovel or a plow deposited to secure a loan, saying, “I did not take anything away from the pledge, I did not steal anything at all.”

3) One who ogles a woman, thinking to himself that this means nothing. He says, “did I have relations with this woman, or even draw close to her?” He does not realize that what the eye sees can be a great sin, since it may lead to inappropriate relations, as it is written (Numbers 15:39), do not seek after your heart.

4) One who honors one’s self through the downfall of another, saying that it is no sin because the other person is not present, and will not hear and be embarrassed. Instead, one merely praises one’s own good deeds and intelligence in contrast to the deeds and intelligence of the other person, with the intent that people should notice who deserves honor and who deserves disdain.

5) One who suspects the innocent, saying that this is no sin. “What did I do to him? Did I do anything other than suspect him? Perhaps he did something wrong, perhaps he did not.” One does not realize that it is a great sin to consider a decent person to be a sinner.

Translation from Maimonides on Teshuvah (5th Edition, 2017)

Day 2: The Scapegoat

Day 2: The Scapegoat
א׳ אלול

ראש חודש אלול

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

1.2

שָׂעִיר הַמִּשְׁתַּלֵּחַ–לְפִי שְׁהוּא כַּפָּרָה לְכָל יִשְׂרָאֵל, כּוֹהֵן גָּדוֹל מִתְוַדֶּה עָלָיו עַל לְשׁוֹן כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל: שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר “וְהִתְוַדָּה עָלָיו אֶת-כָּל-עֲו‍ֹנֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל” (ויקרא טז,כא). 

שָׂעִיר הַמִּשְׁתַּלֵּחַ מְכַפֵּר עַל כָּל עֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה, הַקַּלּוֹת וְהַחֲמוּרוֹת, בֵּין שֶׁעָבַר בְּזָדוֹן בֵּין שֶׁעָבַר בִּשְׁגָגָה, בֵּין שֶׁהוֹדַע לוֹ בֵּין שֶׁלֹּא הוֹדַע לוֹ–הַכֹּל מִתְכַּפֵּר בְּשָׂעִיר הַמִּשְׁתַּלֵּחַ: וְהוּא, שֶׁעָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה; אֲבָל אִם לֹא עָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה, אֵין הַשָּׂעִיר מְכַפֵּר לוֹ אֵלָא עַל הַקַּלּוֹת.

וּמַה הֶן הַקַּלּוֹת, וּמַה הֶן הַחֲמוּרוֹת: הַחֲמוּרוֹת הֶן הָעֲבֵרוֹת שֶׁחַיָּבִין עֲלֵיהֶן מִיתַת בֵּית דִּין אוֹ כָּרֵת; וּשְׁבוּעַת שָׁוְא וְשֶׁקֶר–אַף עַל פִּי שְׁאֵין בָּהּ כָּרֵת, הֲרֵי הִיא מִן הַחֲמוּרוֹת. וּשְׁאָר מִצְווֹת לֹא תַעֲשֶׂה, וּמִצְווֹת עֲשֵׂה שְׁאֵין בָּהֶן כָּרֵת–הֶן הַקַּלּוֹת.

The High Priest utters the confession over the goat that is sent away, which acts as an atonement for all Israel. He does this with reference to the entire Jewish people, as it is written (Leviticus 16:21), and he will confess over it all the sins of all the children of Israel.

The goat that is sent away atones for all sins in the Torah, the lighter ones and the stricter ones, whether one transgressed them intentionally or unintentionally, whether one was aware of them or not. All sins receive atonement through the goat that is sent away. This is true as long as a person does teshuvah. Without teshuvah, the goat atones for lighter sins only.

What are these lighter sins, and what are the stricter sins? The stricter sins are those for which a person would be subject to the death penalty by a human court or excision. False oaths and lies, even though they do not carry the penalty of excision, are included in the category of stricter sins. All other negative commandments, as well as positive commandments that do not carry the penalty of excision, are included in the category of lighter sins.

Translation from Maimonides on Teshuvah (5th edition, 2017)

Day 1: Confession.

Day 1

ל׳ אב ראש חודש אלול

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

כָּל הַמִּצְווֹת שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה, בֵּין עֲשֵׂה בֵּין לֹא תַעֲשֶׂהאִם עָבַר אָדָם עַל אַחַת מֵהֶן, בֵּין בְּזָדוֹן בֵּין בִּשְׁגָגָהכְּשֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה תְּשׁוּבָה וְיָשׁוּב מֵחֶטְאוֹ, חַיָּב לְהִתְוַדּוֹת לִפְנֵי הָאל בָּרוּךְ הוּא:  שֶׁנֶּאֱמָראִישׁ אוֹאִשָּׁה כִּי יַעֲשׂוּ מִכָּלחַטֹּאת הָאָדָם למעול מעל בהואשמה הנפש ההיא וְהִתְוַדּוּ, אֶתחַטָּאתָם אֲשֶׁר עָשׂוּ” (במדבר ה,וז), זֶה וִדּוּי דְּבָרִים.  וּוִדּוּי זֶה מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה.

כֵּיצַד מִתְוַדֶּהאוֹמֵר אָנָּא החָטָאתִי עָוִיתִי פָּשַׁעְתִּי לְפָנֶיךָ, וְעָשִׂיתִי כָּךְ וְכָּךְ, וַהֲרֵי נִחַמְתִּי וּבֹשְׁתִּי בְּמַעֲשַׂי, וּלְעוֹלָם אֵינִי חוֹזֵר לְדָבָר זֶה.  זֶה הוּא עִיקָרוֹ שֶׁלַּוִּדּוּי; וְכָל הַמַּרְבֶּה לְהִתְוַדּוֹת וּמַאֲרִיךְ בְּעִנְיָן זֶה, הֲרֵי זֶה מְשֻׁבָּח.

וְכֵן בַּעֲלֵי חַטָּאוֹת וַאֲשָׁמוֹתבְּעֵת שֶׁמְּבִיאִין קָרְבְּנוֹתֵיהֶם עַל שִׁגְגָתָן אוֹ עַל זְדוֹנָן, אֵין מִתְכַּפֵּר לָהֶן בְּקָרְבָּנָם, עַד שֶׁיַּעֲשׂוּ תְּשׁוּבָה, וְיִתְוַדּוּ וִדּוּי דְּבָרִים:  שֶׁנֶּאֱמָרוְהִתְוַדָּה אֲשֶׁר חָטָא עָלֶיהָ” (ויקרא ה,ה).

וְכֵן כָּל מְחֻיְּבֵי מִיתוֹת בֵּית דִּין, וּמְחֻיְּבֵי מַלְקוּתאֵין מִתְכַּפֵּר לָהֶם בְּמִיתָתָם אוֹ בִּלְקִיָּתָם, עַד שֶׁיַּעֲשׂוּ תְּשׁוּבָה וְיִתְוַדּוּ.  וְכֵן הַחוֹבֵל בַּחֲבֵרוֹ אוֹ הַמַּזִּיק מְמוֹנוֹאף עַל פִּי שֶׁשִּׁלַּם לוֹ מַה שְׁהוּא חַיָּב לוֹאֵין מִתְכַּפֵּר לוֹ, עַד שֶׁיִּתְוַדֶּה וְיָשׁוּב מִלַּעֲשׂוֹת כְּזֶה לְעוֹלָם:  שֶׁנֶּאֱמָרמִכָּלחַטֹּאת הָאָדָם” (במדבר ה,ו).

Every commandment in the Torah, whether a commandment to perform some act or a commandment to refrain from some act— if a person transgresses one of these commandments, whether unintentionally or intentionally, he must confess before God when he does teshuvah for his sin.  This is as it is written (Numbers 5:6-7): a man or woman who commits one of the sins of humanity, transgressing against God, the soul bears guilt; they must confess the sin they committed.  This is called the “confession of words.”  This confession is a positive commandment.

How should a person confess? He should say, “Please, God, I have sinned, I have wronged, I have rebelled before you, and I have done such-and-such. Behold, I regret and am ashamed of my deeds, and I will never return to that act again.” this is the essence of confession, and anyone who expands on such a confession, going into greater detail, deserves praise.

Thus when people who sinned and are guilty, and brought sacrifices for their unintentional or intentional sins, they did not receive atonement through their offerings until they did teshuvah, and confessed the confession of words, as it is written (Leviticus 5:5) and he will confess regarding that which he sinned.

So too, one who was condemned to be executed by the court, or condemned to receive lashes, would not receive atonement through death or lashes if he did not also do teshuvah and confess. Furthermore, anyone who harms another person physically or financially, even though he may repay what he owes, he will not receive atonement until he confesses and repents of ever doing this again, as it is written (Numbers 5:6) of all the sins of humanity.

Translation from Maimonides on Teshuvah, 5th Edition (2017). Comments welcomed.

Why I Wrote Maimonides on Teshuvah

Dedicated to the memory of my father: A new translation and commentary of Moses Maimonides’ classic work on repentance. Softcover, 253 pages, illustrations. $18 after August 3, pre-order now for special price of $9 plus shipping. 5th edition (2017) Visit bit.ly/ordermot for more details.

Maimonides on Teshuvah

 

Dedicated to the memory of my father: A new translation and commentary of Moses Maimonides’ classic work on repentance. Softcover, 253 pages, illustrations. $18. Click here to order.

Maimonides On Teshuvah, Chapter One

Introduction to a short video series on Maimonides on Teshuvah.

The series is dedicated to the memory of my father, Jack David Abramson a”h, who passed away two years ago today, on the 11th of Av, 5774.

For more information, including a sample translation, please visit here.