Showing posts with label sin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sin. Show all posts



To some degree, I feel like I ought to repent on my sins. What brings me to that conclusion is the fact that things get more and more מצומצם constricted. That is at what the Talmud says "אין יסורים בלא עוון" [''There are no troubles without sin.'']
That is.--  sin might not be the cause of the trouble - but if there was not a sin, then the trouble could not reach the person.

So when I try to consider my own sins, it occurs to me the main thing seems be things along the lines of  not appreciating what I had. For example-- my parents, the Mirrer yeshiva in NY, Eretz Israel, the אור אין סוף, learning Gemara etc. I mean I do not think the lack of appreciation is as serious as the lack of continuing in the good things that I could have reasonably been expected to continue in.

This of course is not news. 

However the reason I bring this up is that this idea gives a way to judge others on the scales of merit. For after all what is a wicked person? It does not matter if their wickedness comes from their accepting a social meme from their parents or environment or free will. The fact of their being wicked comes from a simple thing--doing less than what they could reasonably have been expected to do and understand. Therefore even the most wicked people in the world are really not all that different from me.

I had an idea of repenting on my sins a few years back. I think it was, in fact, four years ago. The idea I came up with then was to learn Musar [Ethical books from the Middle Ages.] I am not sure if that helped much. And it did not last long. Still it seems to me to be the best thing that I can figure out. One advantage of Musar I think is that there are lots of things that at one time I considered to be great mitzvas and later understood they were terrible sins. The basic books of Musar from the middle ages are about as straight and simple as  possible in explaining simply what God does and does not require based on the Law of Moses. So there is less leeway for mistakes. It is straight Torah. It is different from what came later which tend to be not very well thought out religious fanaticism. 



I am pretty sure about some sins. I did things based on what I thought at the time were good reasons, but turned out to have disastrous consequences for myself and family. Those were about 4 major sins. All of them involved leaving some area of value. But besides that I figured that I had not just left some area of value but as a result I ended up joining some area of negative value.
But besides all this I also figure that when I suffer from some evil person, that there must be something of that same kind of evil in me,-- I mean as a kind of mirror effect.

All this is based on אין יסוריים בלי עוון there are no suffering that does not have a sin. But also on a statement of Rabbi Ishmael: One who has transgresses a positive command and repents does not move unless he has been forgiven.
If a negative  command then repentance covers and Yom Kippur cleanses.
If a negative command that has Karet or the death penalty then repentance covers but suffering cleanses. If it is חילול השם then only death brings forgiveness.

The things however that I think I need to repent on are not exactly in these categories. Leaving Israel is one thing. That was based on my thinking of Israel as a bad thing as is common among strictly religious people. The other sins are like that. They would not normally be considered things that there is a specific command against. They were just more subtle kinds of mistakes but with large repercussions.

Of course there are lots of things I have been accused of by very wicked people which are all lies. But though people do lie about me often, still they are only accusing me of things they can understand. My real sins are not things anyone can understand. They are more subtle. But also infinitely more serious.

In any case that leaves me with the rest of humanity in a dilemma.  How to pick ourselves up from the pit we have fallen into? It is in answer to this kind of question that I write on my blog about the importance of learning Torah in a Lithuanian kind of Yeshiva. It may not be a perfect solution but from what I can tell it is the best thing out there. At least in this way I can find out what I have done wrong and maybe even begin to correct things. But without learning straight, unadulterated Torah how can I or anyone find out what we have done wrong? Without that we are as likely as not to find some evil path that appeals to us and to claim it is good. With straight Torah, that possibility is less likely.


teshuva repentance

I had a great deal of benefit from R. Yona [the author of the medieval book, The Gates of Repentance שערי תשובה]. It is a drop on the strict side I think. But it certainly gives a clear idea of what repentance is about from a Torah perspective. I may not keep everything he says to do but at least I have an idea of the right direction.

There is an original sin that is the first of ones sins, This is why we say in prayer "hamaavir rishon rishon."[המעביר ראשו ראשון] But it seems to me that  this does not mean the original sin in chronological order, but in ontological order. That is a person might have an original sin. But that might not be the original sin in terms of causation. It might be a later sin which draws a person towards itself by small  sins, one at a time. Also, there can be  several original sins. But in practical terms the implication  seems to be that it is of utmost importance for a person to discover his original sin (or sins) and repent on them and then the later sins automatically start to fall away.

In any case the subject of repentance is hard. In the Christian world  repentance is often defined as: (1) not drinking alcohol, (2) not playing cards, and (3) not being a racist.
This already shows us that sin and repentance have come a long way from Torah in the Christian world. Torah is no longer considered to be the standard of what defines sin.
In the Jewish world, while the above things are not considered sins, but the definition of  sin and repentance is to do lots of rituals. The more the better. So in both cases, the Torah is not considered the standard (the measuring stick) to decide what is a sin and what is not.

And if one does not know what a sin is, he can't repent.

My suggestion is to read the books called "Musar" that explain in detail what it is that the Torah wants from us in plain language. In English or German, the best books out there that explain this are of Shimshon Raphael Hirsch (The Horev and The 19 Letters).
To avoid cults that claim to be teaching Torah is the most  important thing. This is because most of people's sins come about when they think they are doing a mitzvah. [LM I:1 The evil inclination is dressed in mitzvahs.  It never says, "Come do a sin." Rather the Satan seduces people by saying, "Come and do a mitzvah."]

 In Hebrew the best books are the famous Musar books: Duties of the Heart, Mesilat Yesharim, Shaarei Teshuva, Orchot Tzadikim and the books from the school of thought of Israel Salanter. Mainly that would be the Madgrat HaAdam from the "Alter of Navardok."

On a personal note, I should mention that Musar really got into me  when I was at the Mirrer Yeshiva in Brooklyn. It did not last long though because I got involved in Breslov which was a side track.   I lost the learning Torah focus. People that get involved  should be made aware of this tendency which is wide spread in Bresov.  \


1) The idea of Israel Salanter was this: Since one's inner self (who one really is deep inside) is hidden from one, therefore one's real motivations remain hidden even from oneself.  But this deep inner essence is not completely impenetrable. It is possible to affect it. That is by learning books of Medieaval Ethics. That is lots of learning of Mediaeval Ethics. That is he thought the time factor was very important. While I cant do what he suggested what I do try to do is to spend the first couple of minutes when I wake up in the morning on some kind of Medieval ethics learning.--Or something from the Gra whom I consider like a rishon {medieval authority.}

2) Christians ought to remain Christians, and Jews ought to remain Jews. So in applying my advice here about learning books of Ethics from the Middle Ages the set of books would be different for both categories. I am mainly talking about Jewish books, but Christians might pick up Augustine or Aquinas. It is not that all religions are the same. Some are extremely evil. But if people are already Christian it is hard to see what they would gain by changing to straight Torah. They might gain one or two things and lose others. And if people are Jewish well they already have the best thing. The fact that some people misuse Torah should not count against it. Abuse does not cancel use, as the Romans used to say.

3) I would like find an argument for Musar but the only one I can think of is that it helped me understand the Torah.  And to some degree I think it helped me work on my character traits.