Recently, Rav Shalom Arush delivered a riveting speech to our Kollel at Yeshiva Chut Shel Chesed. The speech has had a profound effect on me. I realize that until now I have never understood the true path of teshuva (repentance). Admittedly I have been groping in the dark until this speech. What is written here is a rare gift indeed. Even on my level, I now have a method to get close to Hashem. I have learned a way to be forgiven for everything that I've done and everything that, G-d forbid I will do in the future. I hope it will help you too!
After they sinned by eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, Adam and Eve felt ashamed. They suddenly felt naked before Hashem. The effect of their sin rendered them delusional. They hallucinated that they could hide from Hashem. They deluded themselves into thinking that Hashem had not seen everything. Who in his right mind thinks he can hide from Hashem? They did not cover themselves out of modesty. They covered themselves due to the massive pagam habrit (the desecration of the Covenant) that they brought upon themselves. They defied the word of G-d and were ashamed. Yet, they still rebelled.
Hashem called to them, "Ayeka" (where [what] are you?[hiding])? "Do you really think that I'm not looking at you this very moment?... do you think that I don't see what's in your hearts?...why are you not confessing to me?...it is because you are not finished with this game that you're playing?...you really want more of that fruit don't you?...and you intend to take more of it, do you not?...you are hoping that I will let you continue to sin...you are hoping that I will even approve of you sinning further!"
Hashem's humility is beyond words. Despite their great sin, He moved closer to his children and tried to engage them in conversation. He called to them: "Ayeka" (where [what] are you hiding?). It was so 'painful' for Hashem to lose his children. He came looking for his children. He pursed them and not His Honor.
Adam answered Hashem in an unusual way. According to Reb Shalom we would not be able to understand Adam's answer to Hashem without the help of the Kotzker Rebba, may his merit be a shield for us. Adam blamed Hashem for his fall: "The woman that You gave me, gave me the fruit and I ate it", said Adam.
The word for eating that the Torah writes here is "vayochel". This word, "vayochel", says the Kotzker, does not mean "that I ate" it means "that I will eat" again in the future. Adam was telling Hashem that his spiritual condition had dropped so low that he knew he would sin again.
Before Hashem says "Ayeka" Adam does not want to confess to Hashem. His arrogance prevented his confession. Adam hid due to his shame of wanting to be a God himself. It was only after Hashem calls out "where are you" (what is your true level of spirituality at this moment) that Adam admits honestly that his true "place" is to want to sin again. This was an honest confession. Adam was not telling Hashem anything that Hashem did not already know. Hashem did not punish Adam for his sinful nature. Hashem knew who he was. He created him with that nature. Adam was punished for dishonesty. Hashem will not tolerate dishonesty. Reb Shalom told us that we should never think that it is possible to be close with Hashem if we are not truthful.
The Torah's account of the first couple is not simply a story, it is your life and mine. We have been learning about ourselves. "Ayeka" (where are you?), says Rabbi Shalom Arush, is the only true path to teshuva (repentance) that we have. Who can say that they will not sin again? What does a false confession mean to Hashem? It would be better to say "I know I'm not healed yet. I still want to sin...Father, be Merciful and don't test me now for I will surely fail without You...stand by me G-d of Love, and guard me from temptation." This is called achieving "Ayeka." A person cannot fix himself unless he knows his true place - even if it is to sin again. From here there is a way to climb out of darkness.
Rachel's son, Mark, was unable to support himself and his wife while he was studying for Rabbinical ordination. They moved in with Rachel and her husband. Rachel responded outwardly with chesed (kindness). She shopped and cooked and cleaned for the young couple. She cleaned their dirty dishes. She did their laundry and picked up after them. Rachel even paid their bills and made sure that they had money in their pockets. This continued for several years.
Having consumed all of the books and CD's of Rabbi Arush, Rachel never once uttered a word of criticism or rebuke to her guests. Finally they had one fight. The couple moved out and it has been years since Rachel has spoken with them.
Rachel was still refusing to speak with her son when she sought my "help". She wanted someone to listen to her anger and pain but she refused to work on herself. She would only speak about "them." She felt justified in her anger and hoped that I would accept her right to stay angry. She ceremonially exempted herself from the fulfillment of her primary purpose in this world which is to get along with other people. The problem was not that Rachel lacked kindness and generosity. She had more of these qualities than most people. The problem was that she had not been honest. She had not been willing to admit that it is wrong to harbor resentments toward her son and his wife. Yes, Rachel "acted" like a perfect saint. She never once made a complaint or criticism of her guests. Internally, however, Rachel judged them to be lazy. She felt superior to them. She felt entitled to be honored by them and secretly wanted to control them. Rachel wanted them to seek her advice. Inwardly, Rachel was furious at her son though she never made a peep.
Hashem called to his beloved daughter: "Ayeka Rachel, Ayeka! What does your self-assessment tell you? What is your true Spiritual level right now? Do you think I don't see the hatred in your heart? Do you believe that I will condone this behavior? What will be with you my cherished daughter? Is it too hard for you to speak to me? Are you too ashamed of the sins that you have already committed? Do you lack the words to express yourself to me? I know you are in pain. Don't you think I can help you? I will help you! Please, my daugher, just don't hide from me? I want to take you out of the darkness that surrounds you. Long ago I looked into your soul and saw that this would be good for you. I saw the very defects that you need to fix. I have sent you this to complete you and honor you. I miss you, dear child. Return to me now. My pain is so great. I'm looking at you this very moment. You are an aging, lonely, and bitter person...your health is suffering...I will take you to your son and to your grandchildren...do you know that you have grandchildren now?...this is your time to enjoy your grandchildren... not to be depressed and cut off from my Light...why are you refusing help, dear child?...you have read the books of Rav Shalom Arush...was it only for show that you read those books?...come now...come back to your Loving Father...there'll be no punishment...just open your eyes and see the help that I'm sending you. The moment that you're ready you will see a huge door before you...it is My door, Rachel...the door that will lead you back to me...the moment you are ready... just take this key that I'm giving you now...Just put the key in the door, Rachel, and have emuna in Me, beloved child...when you see that heavy door swinging open...it will be opening just for you, my child...I will open the door for you, my lost princess...and I'll bring you through myself...I will take you from darkness into Light...just please take the key now...while you still have a chance...you have MY PROMISE that I will do the rest.
May It Be So.
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Zev Ballen, LCSW has been a practicing psychotherapist for 32 years. He is licensed in Israel and the State of New York. Zev has the endorsements of prominent Gadolei Yisrael such as the Nikolsburger Rebba, Shlita, Reb Yitzchok Fagelstock, Shlita, The Kasaner Rebbe of Forshay, Shlita, Rav Shalom Arush, Shlita, and Rabbi Lazer Brody, Shlita. He resides with his family in Jerusalem where he learns in Rav Arush’s Kollel and maintains a part-time practice. You can write to Zev Ballen at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at: 845-362-8600 (US line) or 054-840-9499 (Israeli line). You're welcome to visit Zev's person blog, Emuna Therapy.