The highlight of Chanuka 5776 was welcoming Chaim Goldstein to our program. Chaim made Aliyah from Philadelphia on the 2nd day of Chanuka and moved straight into the Oro Shel Adam dorms. He joined our Gemara Megilla chabura immediately. Chaim received a degree from Temple University in engineering and will be working in the field of transportation engineering in Jerusalem.
On Shabbot Chanuka we celebrated Chaim Goldstein’s Aliyah by making a special kiddish in honor of the occasion. Chaim spoke to the community at the kiddish and shared with us his excitement of arriving on Aliyah and now beginning to build a life in Israel. The community, led by Rav Yosef Asayag, danced numerous times to the words “ושבו בנים לגבולם” throughout Shabbos. Aliyah spirits are alive and well in Adam!
Zev Hoffman (left in picture), one of the guys in our program, made a siyum on all of Tana”ch last Thursday night. After a few years of study, Zev completed the 24 books of the Bible and shared his siyum with the yeshiva and community. Mazal tov to Zev and may the yeshiva see many more students starting and completing Sfarim Hakedoshim for many years to come!
(Comments and reactions are always welcomed in response to the ideas presented in the D’var Torah)
The pain of owning up to their actions must have been unbearable for Yehuda and the Brothers. How is it possible to reconcile with one’s self after causing a parent years upon years of unnecessary misery? Simply stated, how does a Baal Teshuva wake up in the morning? (When we say Baal Teshuva we are not speaking of a non religious person becoming religious. It’s relatively easy to put on Tfillin, start keeping shabbos and kashrut. We are discussing a person who has sinned in a very serious way and now is facing the undeniable reality and painful rectification process of that sin.)
The first thing that Yosef tells the Brothers after revealing himself is:
“ועתה אל תעצבו”
“And now do not be sad.”
It is the way of the world that the yetzer hara helps us justify to ourselves why doing something that we shouldn’t do is really not so bad. “There are many worse sins” and “Many people greater than I have fallen in this area” are just a two of the many comments that we hear inside. Post sin, our yetzer hara turns the tables. We hear, “You think you can do Teshuva now, after what you did?” and “Don’t fool yourself and think you can be religious again” and “It will take years to just regain your original level. Is it really worth it?” When our positive inclination-yetzer tov controls the day, before we sin we hear an inner voice telling us “How could you think to do such a thing?” and “You’re going to fall to such a low!?” And after sin we hear from our better half, “Jump right back on the horse” and “Everyone has a moment of weakness, now it’s time to forgive yourself and move on.” In short, the heaviness needs to pervade our mindset before the sin and the light, “jump right back in” attitude needs to dominate our thinking after the sin.
Remarkably, Yosef HaTzaddik (“free from sin”), gives the Brothers and all Baalai Teshuva the most important advice they could hear. “And now, don’t be sad!” While there is much to repair, as all Teshuva requires acknowledgment of sin, regret and future commitment not to return to that sin, the heavy emotional stage of pre-sin is behind you. It is now time to do teshuva out of joy – b’simcha.
The Tiferet Shlomo adds that since Teshuva is a Mitzvah, one of the 613, it must be done with joy as Sefer Tehillim teachs us, “עבדו את ה’ בשמחה”. We are instructed that service of God must be done with joy. Furthermore, the word”ועתה” “and now” used by Yosef carries with it a close association to Teshuva. A Baal Teshuva must take the attitude of “from here and onward.”
The Jewish way of embarking on a path of Teshuva and reconciling our past and past mistakes, as serious as they might be, is by listening to the advice and guidance of a very wise Tzaddik.