Hashem Loves Comebacks
Many of us have fought uphill battles. But when we ask ourselves what has made us strong, we find that it's not the victories, but the bounce-backs from defeat...
by Dennis Rosen
All Klal Yisrael are called Yehudim. In a recent weekly publication, Rabbi Elimelech Biederman asks what is so special about Yehuda that all Yehudim (Jews) are named after him?
He cites the Targum Yonoson which teaches that this was his reward for confessing in the incident with Tamar and admitting that she was with child by him. This must have been a very embarrassing and humiliating experience, yet he surmounted the fortitude to do the correct thing. As a reward the entire Jewish Nation are called Yehudim after him.
Subsequently Yehuda was able to rebound from his disastrous failure to stop the sale of Joseph when he put himself on the line to save Binyomin from a life of slavery. Sfas Emes explains that Yehuda’s uniqueness was his ability to elevate himself after a big fall. He was not overcome by despair and he was able to make a new beginning. This attitude is also exemplified by the Jewish Nation who are called Yehudim after him.
No room for despair
In the Midrash it says that while Yaakov was busy mourning for Joseph, Reuven was occupied in repentance. What was Yehuda doing? He was bringing the light of Moshiach into the world. How was he doing this? The prevalent explanation is that he was becoming the father to the ancestor of Moshiach. An additional powerful insight is given by Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa. He explains that Yehuda was bringing the light of Moshiach into the world because he picked himself up even after a big fall. This attitude of never succumbing to despair and continuing to serve Hashem despite one’s faults is the light of Moshiach.
The power of sincere repentance
In an emuna lesson by Rabbi David Ashear he recounts a story about a man who was in the business of selling disposable cups. His profit margin was very low and he was not making as much money as he needed selling packages of 150 cups. He thought that perhaps if he put only 149 cups into the package that no one would notice and it would increase his profit margin. When this ruse worked, he decided to try filling the package with only 148 cups. Well you guessed it. Once he started this downward spiral he couldn't stop and eventually he was selling packages of 142 cups instead of 150 as advertised.
At that time, he met a religious man who started learning Torah with him and he himself became religious. He reflected on what he had been doing and felt terrible about it. He decided to make teshuva and went to see a great rabbi for advice. The rabbi told him that since he had been shorting the public by eight cups he should begin including 158 cups in each package. Despite the fact that this would have a detrimental impact on his profits, he accepted the words of the great sage and began adding cups. Sure enough, he began to lose money but he steadfastly followed the rabbi’s advice.
One day his manager came to him and told him there had been an exposé published revealing the names of companies who had been trying to cut corners and cheating their customers in the disposable cup market. Then the article said there was one company that was giving eight extra cups. It must be in case some were damaged. They are so reputable! They recommended buying from his company. Soon his orders began to increase exponentially. Eventually he expanded his business into other disposable plastic goods and became extremely wealthy.
This story shows that when a person sincerely repents and does teshuva with love, not only does Hashem show him mercy and forgiveness, Hashem also showers him with tremendous blessings and his prior sins become transformed into merits.
Why do I have so many difficulties?
I reflected on this and received an additional insight. Many of us who visit the Breslev web site have been on a spiritual journey and have made major changes in our lives. We're simply not the same people that we used to be. Nevertheless, despite the fact that we have made teshuva, we can’t expect that the rest of our lives will be like a picnic or a walk on the beach. As many of us have experienced, the challenges and tests have gotten even tougher. Inevitably we experience setbacks and failures in our service of Hashem that can be very disheartening.
In the book Trail to Tranquility Rabbi Lazer Brody reminds us that the loser of the World Boxing Championship is a far better boxer than the local college champion. Likewise now that we are at a higher spiritual level our challenges are also more difficult than they used to be. Don’t forget that even a mediocre major league athlete earns at least ten times more than a minor league player. Similarly the spiritual rewards for succeeding on a higher level are so much greater. Hashem in his love for us sends us formidable tests so that we can develop increased desire, strength and emuna. In the process we elevate ourselves and come closer to Him.
Earning our name
When we experience a setback we need to remember our forefather Yehuda. Let's muster the humility and courage to admit we were wrong or to acknowledge our shortcomings. Like Yehuda let’s fortify ourselves with emuna and desire and ask Hashem to help us make a new beginning.
When we do this we will show we deserve to share Yehuda’s name and when we do this we too can bring the light of Moshiach.