We must believe in our Teshuva
Submitted by Rabbi Chaim Yisroel Blumenfeld, Yeshiva Neveh Zion,
for Yom Kippur 5773
Seudas Shlishis in Neveh, Shabbos Shuva. Trying to find a way to reach our new talmidim, many of them who are quite distant from Torah and mitzvos, I shared with them a story. It’s an amazing story and we all can profit from its insight.
If you really want to be inspired, don’t be satisfied with my story. For this is but one of many, many incredible stories in the newly published book, ‘With All Your Heart’, by Rabbi Binyomin Pruzansky (Artscroll 2012). I haven’t yet read a story from this book without tears in my eyes. In my humble opinion, the author a well known and talented story teller has outdone his previous works in this very special book. By the way, the story and even more important, the lesson learned was given as a lecture by Rav Zachariah Wallerstein in Monsey.
A major figure in politics was accused of murder, and procured a million dollar defense lawyer. A young girl was murdered and the evidence gave the prosecution a strong case even though her body was not found. As a prosecution presented the testimony of witnesses, the defense attorney appeared disattached and didn’t even cross examine. So much so that the jury and spectators that such a trial attracted wondered what the defense attorney was doing to earn his fee. The time for summation came. The prosecution presented a strong case. The defense lawyer rose and confidently addressed the jury. “You may be wondering if I have lost my touch, but why should I defend a man whose innocence could easily be proven?” He then shared with them a telephone call which he received a week ago. Who called him? None other than the supposed victim. She had run away and was healthy and in Mexico and although she did not want her parents to discover her whereabouts, when she heard that the accused was facing a death sentence she agreed to come to court. In fact she was about to appear at 4pm. You can imagine the excitement that overtook the court room with recorders running outside to call their papers. The judge agreed to postpone conclusion of the defenses summation until after 4pm.
Tension mounted as 4pm came and passed. People, even the judge, sat at the edge of their chairs looking towards the door. At 4.30pm the door of the courtroom opened. Everyone instinctively stood up who would enter. But it was only a court stenographer.
Finally at 5pm the judge threatened that either the defense attorney conclude his summation or he will send out the jury to deliberate without his conclusion.
The defense attorney rose and addressed once again the jury. “As American citizens you know that the law is that the prosecution must proof beyond reasonable doubt the guilt of the accused. But the very fact that between 4 and 5pm you all sat at the edge of your chairs and that at 4.30pm when the door opened you rose to see who was entering shows that you have a reasonable doubt and that the prosecution has not proven his case.”
The court was abuzz again with people admiring the “brilliant” defense. In a short time the jury returned from deliberation and the foreman rose to read the verdict. “We the jury find the defendant guilty of first degree murder”.
The defense attorney was beyond himself and when asked the foreman pointed to a woman, one of the jurors, that she could explain the turn of events. She did and she told him that while everyone was looking at the door she was looking at the accused. He did not once turn towards the door. Even when the door opened he didn’t bother to look. It’s quite obvious that he didn’t look because he knew that she would not appear and that… only the murderer could know.
The lawyer later told his client, “you were fooled! Just one glance in the right direction, just one sign that this story might be true and we would have won the case!”
But aren’t we making the same mistake? We told our story on Rosh Hashana. “This year is going to be different. We are going to change and be good.” The best lawyers, the defending angels plead our case before Hashem. Yet, “if we don’t turn around and look at the door, if we don’t show that we believe our story by acting on the inspiration and making changes in our lives, then we disprove our own case.”
There is still a few days before Yom Kippurim to show ourselves and Hashem that we mean what we have been saying and that we are ready to change and better ourselves.
I am sending you a Contemporary Viduy for alumni and an attachment if you would like to see the Viduy we give our present talmidim.
May Hashem grant us among all our brothers bnei Yisrael a g’mar chasima tova and a year of geula for our people.
A CONTEMPORARY VIDUY
1. I lacked belief in myself and in my ability to change and therefore refrained from making goals to grow in my learning and Avodas Hashem.
2. I violated the very first commandment which is to be a mentsch, and the second which is to be real.
3. I said my tefilos and brochos out of rote and habit (mitzvas anashim melumadah) without kavanah.
4. I neglected to set priorities in my life and adhere to them in my schedule. I failed to keep the sedorim I set up, without good reason.
5. Instead of using distractions for healthy recreation when necessary, I made these distractions my way of life and wasted precious time.
6. I neglected to consider the needs of and to spend quality time with my wife and children.
7. I allowed myself to be exposed to temptation without considering the consequences.
8. I neglected that which could give purpose and meaning to my life (i.e. learning Torah, attending shiurim and lectures and learning from the Gedolim).
9. I was so involved with myself or my career that I neglected to be sensitive to the feelings and needs of others.
10.I wasn’t moser nefesh enough when considering the
situation of Klal Yisroel and what I can do to make a
difference (ie tzedakkah, working for the Klal, hosting
guests on Shabbos, reaching out to others).