There have been a numbers of time, recently, when I was reminded that the possibility of t'shuva is open to all. It's so easy for us to want to hold grudges, to question the sincerity of those who do t'shuva, especially when they have also wronged us. I was reminded that I should not judge others, and especially should they chose to do t'shuva. It is not my place to judge-the task is left to the Greatest Judge of All.
In the special haftarah for Shabbat Zachor, the prophet Shmuel lays it all on the line for King Saul - he has blown it, by not following Gds commandments. He has not been obedient to Gd. Rather than proscribing the spoils gained from the war against King Agag of Amalek, Saul plays the Nadav and Avihu game, and figures he'll offer up the spiils as sacrifices. When question by Shmuel, Saul says he kept the choicest animals to sacrifice to Gd.
As Shmuel says to Saul:
"Does the Lrd delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obedience to the Lrd's command? Surely, obedience is better than sacrifice, compliance than the fat of rams" (I Samuel 15:22)
Them Saul says "chatati." I did wrong. He asks to be forgiven his offense and asks Shmuel to accompany him back home where he will bow low before Gd.
Shmuel rejects Saul's plea, and turns to go. Saul grabs at and tears Shmuel's robe. Shmuel repeats his reprimand and reminds Saul that Gd has now taken away the kingship from him for his failure to obey. Shmuel then states that Gd does not change Gd's mind-for "Gd is not human that Gd should change Gd's mind." (15:29)
Yet Saul persists. He again said "chatati." I did wrong. He asks Shmuel to honor him by returning with home with him and he will bow low before Gd.
And without further comment, the text simply says "So Shmuel followed Saul back, and Saul bowed low to the Lrd." (15:31.)
The message is clear. The gates of t'shuva are always open. Saul has admitted his mistake. He may secretly be wishing that Gd decides to give him back the kingship, though I suspect Shmuel's words have made it quite clear that this is not to be. Still, Saul wishes to bow low before Gd. Shmuel could do no less than allow Saul to do t'shuva. (We'll skip the nasty bits that come next when Saul kills King Agag.)
There you have it. It's your turn and my turn now. Just remember-give the benefit of the doubt to your friend, neighbor, kinsperson. The door to t'shuva is always open.
Ready now? Here we go. One...
© 2005 by Adrian A. Durlester
Some previous musings on the same parasha:
Vayikra 5763 - Kol Cheilev
Vayikra 5759 & 5762-Salvation?
Vayikra 5760-Meaningful Gifts
Vayikra 5764 and 5761-Mambo #613: A Little Bit of Alef in My Torah...
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