Channeling Our Shortcomings
[Editor’s note: As a memory of my beloved brother Shaya, I would like to continue sending out his pearls of wisdom that he has shared with all of you in the past. For some of you this may ring a bell and for others it may appear to be totally new. May the learning of Shaya’s Divrei Torah inspire us to change our ways and thereby give an Aliya to the neshama of our dear beloved Shaya whom we miss so much.]
The Haftorah for this week’s Parsha, Parshas Vayeilech, opens with the words, ‘Shuva Yisroel ad Hashem Elokecha ki chashalta biavonecha’ – ‘Yisroel return to Hashem BECAUSE you stumbled with your sins.’
Rav Shach Zatzal elucidated the Pasuk in an interesting way. He said that the first time he was at Aish Hatorah, he was tremendously inspired and amazed at all of the Balei Teshuva in the yeshiva. Rav Shach said ‘from the stumbling in sin you can see what can be done in the positive, in Mitzvos.’ And then Rav Shach added to this idea giving the following example. ‘If one man [Hitler- may his name be obliterated] killed six million Jews, one man can save six million Jews.’
On a simplistic level, the lesson is to learn from all the wicked people’s planning, dedication, and actions and to use those same tools for Mitzvos. For example, if all the radical Muslims are so dedicated to their cause and are not embarrassed, meek, or shy to do what they think is right, then we shouldn’t be embarrassed to stand up for what is truly Emes, which is standing up for Torah and Mitzvos.
But on a deeper level as well, the Seforim tell us that almost all bad Midos-attributes should not be stifled; rather, we should channel them for the good. For example, the Gemara says that one who is born under the Mazal of Maadim will be a spiller of blood. Yet Rav Ashi tells us that it is up to that person to choose between being a murderer or channeling it for Hashem by being a Mohel.
Additionally, one who has the attribute of Gevurah can use it to look down upon and degrade others for their failings in Avodas Hashem. Or he can take that trait and channel it towards looking at his OWN deeds and being strict and exacting in his OWN Avodas Hashem.
As we approach Yom Kippur and reflect on our misdeeds of the past year, let us try to figure out what Midos are at the root of our various mistakes, and then take those Midos and devise ways that we can channel them in a healthy, proper, and positive way.