The Pasuk says “Moshe went out and spoke these words to all Israel. He said to them: I am now one hundred and twenty years old, I can no longer ‘go and come’.”
All commentators had difficulties explaining where Moshe went on the final stage of his life, and what was so important to tell them hours before his final departure? Hours prior, all Bnei Yisrael were gathered before him for the covenant, why didn’t he use that opportunity to tell them? Was anyone expecting him to run around at such an advanced age?
In order to understand we need to first explain the verses mentioned in the Haftara: “Return, O Israel, to Hashem your God, for you have fallen because of your sin. Take words with you and return to Hashem. Say to Him: “Forgive all guilt and accept what is good; Our lips will pay the offering of bulls”.
The prophet Hosheya seems to profess that it’s an axiom; Hashem is ‘forced’ to forgive a person that repents and asks for forgiveness, without the necessity of taking any further action at that time. Obviously, Hashem determines that this repentance is meaningful and will lead to a change of ways of life. It’s a tremendous gift to be immediately absolved before even having to prove his repentance. Seemingly, a person may fail a few times and fall back to his bad habits, nevertheless his atonement is not cancelled out. Where did the prophet Hosheya learn this from? Is it an automatic cause to effect, when a person repents, he will be atoned?
The Yerushalmi says: They asked the prophecy – what should a sinner do to be atoned? The prophecy replied, the sinner should die to be atoned. They asked the Torah the same question and the Torah replied; he should bring a Korban. They asked Hashem The Almighty and He replied; if he repents, he will be atoned. The Yerushalmi concludes; according to the prophecy, there’s no salvation for the sinner. According to the Torah; there is no salvation for the animal, which must die to atone the sinner. However, The Almighty provides salvation to the sinner and the animal, in return for words only.
The Zohar explains that prior to creating this world, Hashem said: the world would not be able to exist without “Tshuva”. Therefore, he started by creating the “Tshuva” prior to creating the world. The reason why it was not created the other way around is; since all creatures would have deemed ‘unfair’ that a human sin can be forgiven. They cannot fathom that a creature could renege Hashem and
live. The ‘Justice’ requires the capital punishment for the ones who rebel on their Master.
The Zohar adds: the “Tshuva” rather than being an atonement, as commonly believed, in reality is a “new life”. As when a person repents, Hashem grants him a new and holier “Neshama”. The “old soul” was soiled and liable to punishment, but the new soul is pure with no sins. In other words, Hashem in His Infinite Goodness, removes all the sins of a person despite him not repenting on everything, as long as he has the true will to get closer to Him. That’s not all; as all the good deeds of the prior souls are transferred to the new soul with a bonus. Everything he repented on, becomes a merit and is added to the new soul. At that time the person is an exalted Tsadik.
Therefore, the Ari zal says, that if the Bnei Yisrael would be able to acknowledge that after Yom Kippur they reached the level of Angels, they would never sin again. Yom Kippur is a tremendous gift, as year over year Hashem gives us the opportunity to get a brand new and holier soul. This is despite, that year over year, we’ll be using the very gifts we received from Hashem to sin against Him.
If the above was a complete description of the benefits of Tshuva it would have been enough to consider us very fortunate to have received such a Godly Gift.
Though, the prophet Hosheya adds more benefits in the next verses: “I will heal their affliction, generously, will I take them back with love; For My anger has turned away from them. I will be to Israel like dew; He shall blossom like the lily; He shall strike roots like a Lebanon oak.”
The Gemara Yoma explains: The Pasuk speaks in singular, as it refers to the person repenting, though, when describing the reward, speaks in plural. This teaches us, that if only a single person does a satisfactory Tshuva, the whole Nation will be atoned!
Hashem promises that only if a person does a proper Tshuva, he will have the utmost merit to benefit also all the Bnei Yisrael as they will be atoned too. Therefore, he will deserve that because of him, they will all be inscribed in the book of life, and be showered with blessings. Also, despite being a “Rasha” a miscreant minutes before his Tshuva, now he’s loved again by Hashem as if he forever was a complete Tsadik. Chazal derived from here that some people deserve their world to come in an instant!
The Midrash relates two short stories to illustrate this fact: When the accursed Romans entered Jerusalem and wanted to pillage the Beth Hamikdash, they were afraid to enter, as Hashem’s powers were well known by all nations. They decided to send in a Jew. To entice him to accept, they offered that any vessel that person would take out will be his to keep. Yossef Mecheta accepted the deal and entered
the Beth Hamikdash. To the romans’ amazement he came out with the Menorah. They told him he could not keep it, as it did not befit to be used by a commoner.
They offered him to go back and take something else instead, and they promised he could keep it. But he refused. They offered him a very large sum of money too, but he still refused. They threatened him with torture if he would not go back in. He then replied, it’s enough I angered Hashem once, even if you kill me, I will not desecrate our Temple again. He was indeed tortured and killed. Though, he never moaned about the pain, his only moaning was “woe to me that I angered Hashem”. A heavenly voice announced that he was directly going to “Olam Haba”.
The second story: When the accursed Romans took the Holy Tana Yossef Ben Yoezer to be hanged, it was on a Shabbos. When he arrived at the gallows, his nephew, who was a renegade, was passing by dressed royally and riding a beautiful horse. Seeing his uncle in that situation he told him: “see the mounting my master provided me and see the mounting your Master provided you”. Yossef Ben Yoezer replied: “if Hashem rewards like this those He loves, even more so to those He hates”. Those words pierced his nephew’s heart like a sword. He immediately went and applied to himself the 4-capital death. Yossef Ben Yoezer saw a bed going up to Heaven on which his nephew was lying, and said lucky him, he precedes me to “Gan Eden”.
Those people went from the lowest level of miscreants who partnered with our enemies to the highest level of exaltation and purity. How did this happen? Through Tshuva. These are the tremendous attributes it has, there’s no level low enough for it! there’s no desperation! everything is possible with a little bit of will.
This is what Moshe our “Faithful Sheppard” did. Instead of spending his last moments with his loved ones, he went to teach the Bnei Yisrael the magical powers of Tshuva. No matter where life takes you or how low you feel, despair not! You can become a Tsadik. I will no longer be around to intercede for you, but you can do it yourself. The Tshuva is a very unique gift from Hashem, which will raise the repented one, all the way to Hashem’s Throne in an instant! Besides, you’ll also be rewarded as Hashem will also grant atonement to all Bnei Yisrael. How simple is it? Say the “Viduy” meaningfully. Say it in a language you understand and mean every word of it [it’s a small prayer]. For this tiny effort and thoughts, you’ll be showered with blessings in this world and the world to come.
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