6 Shvat 5781 / Tuesday, January 19, 2021 | Torah Reading: Bo
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Take Responsibility!    

Take Responsibility!

Who is truly to blame for the current situation, and what do we do about it? Read the article Rabbi Arush says is the most important he’s ever written!


Avi and Sara had an important event to attend that evening. They had already arranged for their married daughter Devorah to come babysit her younger siblings for the couple hours they would be gone. Devorah came right on time, and the parents left happy and relaxed. Devorah closed the door behind them, and went straight to her old room with a book. 


Her parents came home to a disaster. Their home looked more like a battlefield than a house – the contents of the house were all over the floor, scribbles were all over the walls, some of the furniture had been damaged and worse yet, the littlest ones were crying and one was even hurt.  


The parents were enraged at their daughter, but she responded calmly, “What’s your problem with me? Why am I at fault? I didn’t do any of this! I behaved well - the little kids misbehaved and did everything. Blame them, not me! After all, I did you a favor by letting you go out. And now you are complaining?” 



More Knowledge – More Responsibility 

Obviously, this is just an allegory but the point is abundantly clear – you cannot blame someone who does not know to do better. The blame is put squarely on the shoulders of the “big sibling” or the “adult” in the picture – because the child is just a child and doesn’t know any better. 


So too in our world, and in the Jewish people in particular. According to Jewish law, a Jew who grows up not knowing what Judaism is or what it teaches, and therefore sins against the Torah out of ignorance, is called a tinok shenishba – a “captured baby.” The fact that they are called “babies” is not coincidental. A baby doesn’t know or understand anything. Therefore, a baby is not responsible for its actions, and certainly is not held responsible for the generation as a whole, either.  


Therefore, it is a big mistake to think that the people “to blame” are non-religious Jews who don’t know any better.  


The people who know better, or should know better – they are the ones who must bear responsibility. Therefore, the Torah puts responsibility for the generation squarely on the shoulders of the greats of the generation, along with each and every Jew, according to his connection to the truth, to emuna and to the true purpose. Such people must take responsibility, and certainly not blame anyone else! 


Avraham Avinu prayed for the people of Sodom and Gemorrah, who were utterly evil. Why did he pray for them then? Because he felt responsible for them! He felt responsible to bring the entire world closer to the truth, to Hashem. This is a true great leader! 



Don’t be Silent! 

When there are harsh judgements on the world, it is forbidden to blame the situation on babies. No suffering or damage comes from the Jews who are non-religious or otherwise don’t know the truth. We, the religious, Torah observant community – we are supposed to know better and we alone must take responsibility. Harsh decrees come in order to wake up the Jewish people to do teshuva and fix their ways. Hashem is not calling to those who don’t know to listen! Hashem wants US to do teshuva – yes, us, the Torah observant community! – to do teshuva! 


Be honest with yourself. Ask yourself, “Am I really connected to emuna, to the truth and to the true purpose?” If the answer is yes, then the Torah sees you as responsible. You must do teshuva and fix your ways, and also pray for everyone else to also come close like you have. And if the answer is that you yourself are not connected to the truth properly, then all the more so do you need to do teshuva, return to the truth, learn, and fix your ways - and certainly not blame anyone else. 


It is incredibly difficult for me to hear the horrible things being said about non-religious Jews. Is it possible to hear one Jew call another a “Nazi” and be silent?! Are you better than him? Do you know where a currently “non-religious” Jew can eventually go and what can come from him? 


And I am not just talking about the future – I am talking about the present! You have no idea who this person without the outward trappings of religion is! There are a lot of upright and honest Jews out there, people you can trust who have a heart of gold. They are good people, and they do good things for others and treat everyone with respect – even if they still have not yet learned the truth and beauty of real Judaism, and keep Torah and mitzvot. How can you raise yourself above them, when you have no idea who they are? 



Don’t Judge 

Rabbi Natan of Breslev, who learned all of Shas by age 13 and knew the entire Torah, revealed and hidden – refused to judge any Jew. He said that it is impossible for him to judge his true place – so he refused also to judge or blame him. But you can?! How much must a person be full of lies and falsehood in order to hate, insult or curse someone else!  


I want you to consider this question: How many people ever changed their ways because of hate, insults, or blame? 


Take myself as an example – me, Shalom Arush. What would you have thought about me when I was still far away? And I was totally far away from everything, from keeping any mitzvah (read Rabbi Arush’s moving story of how he came closer to the Torah Judaism). I didn’t know anything! 


But I was not bad – I was very, very good! I listened to those around me, to the point that they nicknamed me “The Western Wall.” Everyone loved me and knew they could rely on me. I was good, and I wanted to do good and be good. I was very lucky that I never ran into some “righteous man” who told me what he thought of “wicked people like me,” thus blocking my path to return to Hashem. 


Where is our love of another Jew? Are we not supposed to judge favorably? 



Get on the Fast Track 

If we want a Redemption, we all need to make some big changes, and fast. We need to learn from Abraham our Father to stop blaming others and instead look inside ourselves. Change yourself, recognize that Hashem is looking at you and is waiting for you to do teshuva – and not your friend, or your neighbor, and not the non-religious and Reform Jews either, nor those who are less religious than you in your own eyes. 


We need to go in the path of Aaron, who loved peace and pursued it – and we too are commanded to do the same! (see Love Everyone). “Love all humans and bring them close to the Torah.” First and foremost, you must love every Jew, love every human, and treat everyone with love and respect. Believe in the good in people, and pray for them to also come close to the truth and emuna! 


If you see something you don’t like in someone else – don’t hate him! Fix yourself, work on yourself, have mercy on that person, pray for him and bring him closer. The answer is not hate and blame – it’s fixing ourselves and praying for everyone to learn emuna! 


I’ve written a lot of articles. However, if you ask me – this article is the most important I’ve ever written, and I want it to reach everyone! 


If we’ll all take this advice seriously, we will certainly be on the fast track to the full Redemption with mercy. 


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  3 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
Michael Arking11/16/2020 11:33:19 AM
  Possible approach
Yehudit11/13/2020 11:10:16 AM
  But how do we respond to Jews who hate Israel?
Cheryl Mavrikos11/12/2020 10:45:27 PM

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