Sha’arei Teshuva (9AM schmooze, 5780-5781)

These shiurim are being given this semester (Fall ’20), every morning. We will iy”H B”N update the track list below with each day’s schmooze.

  • Listen using the player below
  • Click the “track lyrics” button  or see the table below the audio player to read a detailed description of a shiur
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See the table below the player for details about the shiurim in this series.

TrackTitleLength (mm:ss)Description
1Connections Beyond Space & Time. The scope of Teshuva. Sha’arei Teshuva, Sha’ar 2:1.16:10Common purpose can form community & connections beyond space & time. Sha’arei Teshuva, Sha’ar 2:1 – teshuva is not simply on individual acts, but must address one’s approach to life.
2Sha’ar 2:1, Sha’ar 1:6: Remembering Hashem Daily.14:12Remembering Hashem puts everything in context – what’s important, goals, aspirations, etc. Remembering Hashem is both the catalyst of teshuva as well as the endpoint of teshuva. At first it momentarily changes our perspective; long term goal – Shivisi Hashem L’Negdi Tamid.
3Sha’ar 2:1: Shivisi Hashem; Knowledge Shaping Nature; Consistency07:12Rambam, at the end of Moreh Nevuchim, and Rama (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim, 1:1), on Shivisi Hashem l’negdi tamid as the goal and as the basis and foundation for everything. Have to shape one’s nature via one;s knowledge. Consistency as the single most important middah to cultivate in avodas Hashem.
4Shaar 2:1: Role of Thought in Teshuva, Combatting Bad Thoughts14:49Both Rabbeinu Yona here as well as the Rambam (Teshuva 2:2) highlight the role of thought in Teshuva, i.e. doing teshuva in the level of thought, not just action. Thought comes into play on 2 levels in teshuva: 1) genuinely resolving to do teshuva, and not even making any allowances for sinning again, is critical in succeeding in our teshuva 2) the way to combat bad thoughts is to occupy one’s mind productively. This is true both reactively as well as preemptively.
5Sha’ar 2:1-2: The Right Perspective on, and Reaction to, Suffering13:48Ideally, teshuva should be done without outside triggers, and only enhanced by those triggers, but Hashem accepts the teshuva if externally triggered, e.g. from suffering. We should view suffering as a kindness from Hashem, and react accordingly.
6Sha’ar 2:2: Opportunity & Responsibility in Teshuva12:35To ignore suffering, and not do teshuva when confronted with them, is itself an act of rebellion. Opportunity (in this case, the opportunity to be awakened and do teshuva) and responsibility always go hand on hand. The more one ignores suffering, the worse it’ll get. Teshuva includes scrutinizing both individual actions as well as one;s path in life and middos.
7Sha’ar 2:2: Denial of Sin Being Worse Than Sin Itself10:31As long as there is an openness to recognizing cheit, there is a path forward, be it bein adam lamakom, ne it bein adam lachaveiro. Refusing to recognize cha’to’im is a more serious aveira than the aveiros themselves.
8Sha’ar 2:3-4: The Benefits of Suffering12:22Suffering is good for us both because us both because it provides atonement and because it awakens us to do teshuva. Ignoring suffering will cause them to be increased. Rav Wolbe relates an incredible story about Rav Yeruchum when he was suffering from cancer…
9Sha’ar 2:3-4: Spiritual Illness is Healed Through Physical Illness. The Optimism Built in to Our Suffering.21:25Spiritual Illness is Healed Through Physical Illness. Restoring the balance between physical & spiritual. Hashem’s optimism about us which is built in to his making us suffer.
10Sha’ar 2:5: Suffering as a Source of Salvation12:27We should hope/pray for suffering to lead to a source of salvation, and thus the suffering will have been productive. (Rav Twersky expanded this idea here in a way similar to his dvar Torah here). A brief look at different explanations of the meaning of, “yisurin shel ahava”.
11Sha’ar 2:5 – 2:6: Yisruin Shel Ahava, Viduy Before Death15:47In 2:5 Rabbeinu Yona talks about nisayon in the context of yisurin shel ahava. Rav Twersky explaisn how Rabbeinu Yona understands the nisayon contained within yisurin shel ahava is the mechanism through which the recipient’s reward in Olam Haba is increased. In 2:6 Rabbeinu Yona lists viduy before teshuva when describing viduy before death. Rav Twersky contrasts that with the order the Rambam has in Perek 1 of Hilchos Teshuva, and explains the difference.
12Sha’ar 2:7: The Gifts of Old Age, and How Access Those Gifts Decades Beforehand22:30In Sha’ar 2:7, Rabbeinu Yona highlights two ways the realities of old age are conducive to teshuva: 1) they remind us that our days are limited and getting shorter and 2) ebbing physical strength makes it easier for us to have a correct perspective on physical desires etc. The first stage of teshuva is gaining a perspective on one’s sins. Old age does it for us to a large extent, but we can gain this perspective throughout life. How? When it comes time to make a decision, large or small, we can ask ourselves, for example, “When I am 70 years old and looking back, which path will I regret? Will I regret not having more time in the office and instead being with my children, or will I regret prioritizing my career and being a largely absentee father?” By asking ourselves now what we will think about each of the two paths that are currently before us when we are looking back on those paths on our death beds, we can make better use of decades of life.
13Sha’ar 2:7-2:8: Reaching 50.1% of Lifespan as an Impetous to Teshuva. The Rebelliousness of Thinking I Don’t Have to Do Teshuva.19:022:7 – Not just reaching what is conventionally described as middle aged, but even being 50.1% through one’s life should awaken one to teshuva. 2:8 – Thinking that I don’t have anything to do teshuva on is either rebelliously rejecting HKB”H’s assessment of reality (“ain tzaddik ba’aretz asher ya’aseh tov v’lo yecheta”), or simply forgetting about my aveiros which itself demonstrates my not taking my aveiros seriously enough.
14Sha’ar 2:8: Ignorance Caused by Insufficient Motivation as Source of Blindness to One’s Sins3:07Sha’ar 2:8: The skewed self-image which results in one not recognizing his need to do teshuva stems, at times, from not being sufficiently motivated to know enough about what HKB”H tells us is right and good, and therefore he doesn’t know and therefore he doesn’t realize that he has sinned and must do teshuva.
15Sha’ar 2:9: Teshuva on Sins of Omission and Omission; Torah Learning as a Trigger for Teshuva9:14Sha’ar 2:9 – sins of omission and of commission need teshuva. HKBH”H does not overlook bitul Torah because learning Torah is a corrective measure that can lead to fulfillment of all mitzvos. Conversely, bitul Torah leads to the sins of commission.
16Sha’ar 2:9: The Appropriate Shifts in Focus at Later Stages of Life15:56In 2:9, R’ Yona, based on the mishna on Avos 5:26, talks about having a certain perspective on life, which ideally one should have clarity on in one’s youth, but if not one can/should gain. Later in life, when there is less need to focus on issues of olam hazeh (tuition, investments, career, etc.), we should shift our allocation of time and focus more towards the spiritual.
17Sha’ar 2:9, 2:14: Times of Din (Old Age, 10 Days of Teshuva) Demand a Different Balance in Life20:38If we relate to din as we should, then both during old age and during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva we should feel an eimas hadin and not take anything for granted. Hence the parallels in language between 2:9 and 2:14. The increased seclusion R’ Yona describes for these times is necessary for proper reflection, mustering needed resolve, etc., all of which have to be done in seclusion.
18Sha’ar 2:9, 2:14: Yiras Hashem is the Basis and Goal of Everything. Rewriting Our Year’s Record During Aseres Yemei Teshuva.19:46Sha’ar 2:9: Ultimate purpose of chochmo is to attain yiras Hashem, which is the beginning of everything and also the end goal. As we age, we should intensify and deepen our yiras Hashem, making strides towards the higher, ultimate level of yiras Hashem. Sha’ar 2:14: All that we do is subject to revision and reinterpretation via Teshuva. Our year’s record is written down, but during aseres yemei teshuva, our teshuva is accepted immediately, and thus we have the opportunity to rewrite our year.
19Sha’ar 2:14, 4:17: Cheshbon Hanefesh during Aseres Yemei Teshuva.18:49Sha’ar 2:14, 4:17: Cheshbon Hanefesh is supposed to be present throughout Aseres Yemei Teshuva, and must cover not just what happened but also why it happened and how I am going to fix it. On Yom Kippur, according to Rabbeinu Yona, the obligation is to proactively search out, and to teshuva on, our aveiros.
20Sha’ar 2:9: External and Internal Acquisitions12:30Rabbeinu Yona describes the shift in focus that should occur when one gets older, i.e. the shift in balance towards focusing more on tikkun hammidos, chochmo etc. While the specific advice is for older people, the realities he describes should serve as a guide and criterion for people of all ages as they choose how to set goals, allocate time and focus, etc.
21Sha’ar 2:9: Matching What We Undertake to Our Abilities and Life Circumstances16:16We must always match what we undertake to our abilities and life circumstances. Rabbienu Yona discusses that as one ages the focus should shift towards tefillah, praise, teshuva, etc. This fits well with the reality of decline that many experience in old age; the weakness and vulnerability that one feels due to that decline is very conducive to teshuva. On a similar note, the role of a parent/rebbe is to create an environment where the child/talmid takes all that is being taught and becomes a unique oveid Hashem based on the abilities Hashem gave him/her. It is important for both the parent/rebbe and the child/talmid to know that the goal is NOT for the child/talmid to be a clone of the parent/rebbe.
22Sha’ar 2:9: Don’t Slack Off in Old Age. Enjoy and Value Each Day.15:06Have to be sure to not waste any time in this world, and not slack off in our avodas Hashem as we grow old. One might’ve thought that the elderly should not teach talmidim, but that is incorrect. We should maintain our simchas hachaim in old age. The awareness of mortality should not make one morbid, rather should translate into an appreciation of the preciousness and blessing of every day.
23Sha’ar 2:9: Efforts & Results in a Tzaddik’s Old Age12:17Sha’ar 2:9: Tzaddikim renew / intensify their efforts in avodas Hashem in their old age, and their chochmo, and other areas of their avodas Hashem, increases. Genuine, authentic chochmo expresses itself in all areas of avodas Hashem.
24Sha’ar 2:10: Complete Acceptance of Yoke of Heaven; Taking Full Advantage of Rebuke; Timely Guidance16:47Sha’ar 2:10: When one picks and chooses what guidance to accept and not accept from chachomim, one’s kabbolas ol malchus Shomayim is fundamentally lacking. Maximal results are achieved when rebuke is accepted and internalized immediately. Rebuke has to calibrated to the generation to which it is being given.
25Sha’ar 2:10: The Transformative Power of Internal Motivation to Teshuva8:28Sha’ar 2:10: The more one is internally driven to do teshuva, the more potential there is for a total transformation via teshuva, i.e. afeila l’ohr gadol. When the impetus is merely reacting to externally imposed, transformation is less likely.
26Sha’ar 2:10: The Results of a Clear Grasp & Total Commitment15:22Sha’ar 2:10: Falling short in understanding or commitment both limit the results of one’s teshuva. A Clear grasp and total commitment, though, yield great results. Only HKB”H can guarantee what circumstances will allow to actually play out, but the one thing we have complete control over is our ratzon to do.
27Sha’ar 2:11: Rejecting Rebuke14:38Essence of cheit is rebelliousness against HKBH. When one is not chozeri b’teshuva and is perpetuating it, he’s perpetuating / repeating the rebelliousness. When we resist divrei tochacha via being mak’she libeinu, we are pushing back against the natural response of teshuva, just as Pharoh pushed back against giving in to HKBH. Someone giving tochacha is called a mal’ach, i.e. on a mission from HKBH.
28Sha’ar 2:11: The Outcome of Despising Rebuke12:27Sha’ar 2:11: One who simply gives in to ta’ava may long for rebuke to set himself on the right path. However, when we make something non-negotiable, we will distort everything else to accommodate it. One who hates rebuke makes his sin non-negotiable, and will distort other things, including dvar Hashem, to accommodate it.
29Sha’ar 2:12: Context Drives Interpretation and Requirements19:061) Who the person involved is defines the context of how we interpret something. 2) Beracha / opportunity and responsibility go hand in hand – opportunity brings with it responsibility, and we are not held responsible without being given the ability to live up to it. We are required to use our senses to serve Hashem. One willing to listen to tochacha is worthy to dwell among chachomim.
30Sha’ar 2:13: Identifying with What We Learn13:38Sha’ar 2:13: We must delve deeply into Torah, and there must not be any gap between us and what we’re learning. We must completely identify with the Torah we learn, e.g. with what we learn in Navi, mussar, etc.
31Sha’ar 2:14: To have yiras Shomayim one simply has to be in touch with reality.12:43If we take things at face value and respond appropriately, that will result in the yiras Shomayim required of us. Have to simply not deny reality; yiras Hashem itself is natural, and results from being attuned to, recognizing, and responding appropriately to the reality of Hashem Echad. HKB”H’s kindness naturally generates gratitude, simcha, etc., and HKB”H is norah, and that naturally generates yiras Hashem in us. The secret of having yiras Hashem is simply being attuned to reality. We’re so challenged in cultivating yiras Hashem because we are distracted from reality by the physical veneer. Our avodah is to see beyond the veneer and see reality.
32Sha’ar 4:14: Activites and Feelings at a Time of Teshuva17:51Rabbeinu Yona is describing how one acts during Aseres Yemei Teshuva, but the elements listed are for any time one feels a need to make such a cheshbon. When one takes away from his sleep to daven, he is sacrificing in order to daven, and that sacrifice infuses it with a special quality. Teshuva requires both the recognition/resolve and also a practical implementation plan. Lishpoch siach – overwhelming emotion should pour out in tefillah. Like the poor person, tefillah l’ani ki ya’atof, who is so needy and it all comes gushing out.
33Sha’ar 4:14: Yirah and Simcha12:23Rina & tefillah. Why would he be singing rina, praise, in a time of fear, i.e. during Aseres Yemei Teshuva and Y”K? The flip side of machiyos / din of Aseres Yemei Teshuva is HKB”H making himself close / available – dirshu Hashem b’himatzo; this closeness is what generates the rina. This dialectic, of yiras Shomayim and simcha generated thereby, is all year round, not just Aseres Yemei Teshuva. Not healthy or emmesdik to ignore either side of the coin.
34Sha’ar 2:14: Life and Teshuva are Both Gifts10:03Sha’ar 2:14: “l’hapil techina”, like v’eschanan – asking for a matnas chinam. All of life is really a matnas chinam. We, however, incorrectly live with a sense of entitlement. The matnas chinam of teshuva even surpasses the matnas chinam of life.
35Sha’ar 2:14 – Teshuva on Yom Kippur12:13Mitzvas Aseh to do teshuva on Y”K. What’s added beyond mitzvas teshuva of all year? 1) There is a chiyuv to engage in cheshbon hanefesh and uncover cheit that we were unaware of until now 2) On Y”K the Torah refers to tahara, i.e. a teshuva that yields tahara, which is a higher bar. Maharal – for very mitzvah HKBH gave us, he gave us the corresponding requisite abilities to fulfill it.
36Sha’ar 2:15: The Immediate Need for Teshuva11:57In what contexts should we be concerned about dying tomorrow? When there is a spiritual thing on my to-do list before dying that can be done now, e.g., making a cheshbon hanefesh; I could’ve always pushed it off forever saying I will do it tomorrow, but shema yamus tells us not to delay. In other areas halacha does NOT concern itself with shema yamus, e.g. the wife of a kohein who is on a far away trip can still eat tremuah without concern.
37Sha’ar 2:15 – Calibrated Awareness of Mortality as a Trigger for Teshuva and Simcha14:16R’ Yona did not prescribe the same schedule in 2:15 as he did in 2:14. Clearly that schedule which one has for Aseres Yemei Teshuva is not sustainable throughout the year, and 2:15 is talking about all year. Beginning of sha’ar 2 R’ Yona said that remembering HKBH can arouse one to teshuva, and here he is saying that remembering one’s mortality can as well. Being cognizant of mortality is not a formula for depression, rather it is a formula for an enduring simcha. When one lives life carefully and reflectively, with an awareness of the value of life and accountability, then he will live properly and meaningfully and have an enduring simcha.
38Sha’ar 2:15 – 17: Using Our Time in This World To Prepare for Our Eternal Life17:362:15 – Have to reflect on what you will want the situation to be when you are close to yom hamoves, and work now to get there. The challenge is not to get distracted.
2:16 – Try to fulfill all mitzvos over the course of life. For those that aren’t possible / relevant, fulfill by learning about them. Why is doing a mitzvah samuch l’misa as if he fulfilled the entire Torah? If someone used his time and devoted himself to fulfilling Torah, we can extrapolate from that to what he would’ve done given more time.
2:17 – animals do plan for the future (e.g. ants, squirrels put food away), but they don’t have an awareness of mortality. Because we have to prepare for our transition to eternal life, HKBH gave us the awareness of our mortality so we would prepare for it.
39Sha’ar 2:17: The Death of Re’sha’im. Techiyas Ha’Meisim.9:09Sha’ar 2:17: The Death of Re’sha’im. Techiyas Ha’Meisim.
40Sha’ar 2:17: Preparing for What Awaits Us10:331) Nefesh is a person’s essential defining quality. For the Rasha, it goes to Gehinom. 2) Death is very difficult for one who didn’t separate himself from physical desires. Better to make that separation while alive and be prepared, and then for him death is just a bridge to eternal life.
41Sha’ar 2:18: Spiritual Cause and Effect11:38All neshamos go up and are judged. Those of tzadikkim are stored under kisei hakavod, those of reshaim are cast down. Reward & punishment works on a basis of cause and effect. Torah & mitzvos create a positive effect, aveiros a negative effect. A person is in charge of his own destiny. A Rasha whose focus is physical, will have his neshama be cast down la’aretz; it will follow it’s natural course.
42Sha’ar 2:19: Differences Between Man and Animal, Tzaddik and Rasha18:421) We can’t tell who is really a rasha and who is a tzaddik.
2) From a purely physical perspective, there is no fundamental difference between a person and an animal. What differentiates us is the spiritual dimension. To the degree that someone doesn’t cultivate the spiritual dimension, he isn’t really different from an animal.
3) “Nefesh” means an animating force – can be physical / mechanical. In correct to translate it as a spiritual soul.
43Sha’arei 2:19: Perspective on Fleeting Nature of This World17:28Thoughtful people see this world as very temporary; the finite life in this world is negligible in length compare to the eternal life of olam haba. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t plan / prepare for the future – Chazal clearly say elsewhere that we should. But we shouldn’t focus on olam hazeh things that are beyond our ability / responsibility.
44Sha’ar 2:21: Internalizing and Fulfilling Our Missions16:27Must internalize, not just know, that we’re here to serve HKBH. We each have a unique mission beyond the general, common fulfillment of mitzvos. Mission can be characterized by how he balances different mitzvos, by where he is, etc. Implicit in this is someone must have enough self-awareness to understand what his mission is / can be.
45Sha’ar 2:22-23: Awareness of Mortality Helps Maximize Results15:24Awareness of mortality gives one a sense of yakrus hazman, and thus he works to maximize his time and accomplish as much as possible in learning, yiras Shomayim, tikkun hamiddos, doing mitzvos, all of which are practically infinite. Without that awareness, we naturally feel as if we have plenty of time.
46Sha’ar 2:24-25: The Potential of Olam Hazeh, With the Proper Perspective17:45Only a living person can do mitzvos, and this is the value of Olam Hazeh. For Yedias Hashem, however, Olam Haba dwarfs anything that can be achieved in Olam Hazeh, and hence here, when extolling opportunity of Olam Hazeh, R’ Yona doesn’t mention Talmud Torah (in contrast to 2:22). One has to overcome ga’ava before achieving Yiras Shomayim and having proper perspective on olam hazeh.
47Sha’ar 2:25-26: Investing the Time and Effort to Change19:36Acquiring knowledge vs. Internalizing knowledge – the later requires constant reinforcement. Have to set aside time to think about and internalize where we will end up (olam haba) to correctly internalize and plan what we should focus on now. Can’t be passive and expect to develop spiritually. Have to constantly reinforce and attempt to internalize. Takes time and effort to change.
48Sha’ar 2:26-28: Why We Must Work Hard, Without Delay22:261) HKB”H made is that we have to work hard to grow so that we will not be lulled into a complacency that would cause us to not meet our full potential.
2) A fixed-length investment of time that temporarily limits his time for learning etc. in order to facilitate things in the long run is legitimate. But an open-ended delay of learning etc. to make money is not. And, even if he would reach whatever level of wealth he desired, he would then want more. One also can not delay since the goal is so ambitious, we can’t afford to delay at all.
49Sha’ar 2:29-30: Delays and Habits.14:45Delaying teshuva will cause him to sin more, and to regress. Bad habits are self-imposed limits on our bechira. Everything we do generates momentum.
50Sha’ar 2:32-34: Capitalizing on Fresh Experiences. Challenge of Doing Teshuva When Older.11:26Even the impact of powerful, intense experiences wanes; one must act immediately to capitalize on them. When one sins, he experiences anguish, but that will wane as well. He must do teshuva immediately to “cash in” on that anguish.
When one is older, the yetzer hara is weaker so the teshuva is less ideal. In addition, it will be harder for an elderly person to summon the energy needed to change his ways.
51Sha’ar 2:34: Need a Good Working Plan to do Teshuva16:20Teshuva represents change and improvement. Resolve / sincere desire precedes the teshuva process, but then one has to make changes. Ofttimes we look back and see times we wanted to change but nothing came out of it, and start to question our ability to change, etc. The first question to ask ourselves is to look if we used the wrong practical strategy / approach to do positive and to avoid pitfalls. Need a good plan that works and is realistic. If you want it, working hard is not onerous.
52Simcha in Mitzvos and Learning18:55See Rambam, Hilchos Lulav, 8:14-15. The natural reaction to being involved in mitzvos is simcha. Simcha will be absent only if I hold myself back from it. Even learning Sha’arei Teshuva, which is very heavy and induces koveid rosh, will not remove simcha but will be properly balanced with it. To the degree we are focused on our learning, the simcha comes naturally.
53The Need for, and Mitzva of, Simcha12:21Sefer Hachinuch, Mitzvah 488: Shorshei haMitzvos: we need to rejoice at times, just like we need to eat, sleep, etc. HKBH elevated it to a level of mitzvah, and ensures we don’t go off the proper path.
There is a need at times for simcha to be the focus. Doesn’t mean rest of the year is bereft of it, just that it’s not always the primary focus. How do we make sure the simcha has the proper parameters and focus? If one’s simcha is rooted in a simchas hachaim because being alive is a good thing, he’s on the right path, as he is being happy with HKBH’s briah.
54Simcha – a Fixture in a Life of Avodas Hashem8:51Devarim 26:11 – “v’somachta b’chol hatov” – Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh – be happy with that which includes all good, i.e. HKBH, and He gave us good/simcha by giving us Torah. Simcha is a natural reaction to Torah, and thereby should be a permanent fixture in the life of an oveid Hashem.
55Simcha Generated By Reflection on Mitzvos11:55Kuzari 2:50 – Real simcha is preceded by thought / reflection. Thought / reflection on mitzvos will cause one to be b’simcha about the wonderful opportunity presented by mitzvos.
56Torah Reflects HKBH Even More than Nature Does7:06Pikudei Hashem mesamchei lev – Ibn Ezra: because the Torah positions you for olam Habbah, which is eternal simcha. Nature and Torah both reflect HKBH, but Torah does it better.
57Avodas Hashem: True Source of Simcha13:55Physical things (money, health) are not me, they can be lost overnight, and are not a true source of simcha. True simcha comes from Avodas Hashem which is both inherently meaningful and also is our greatest desire, i.e. eternal life.
58Doing Teshuva B’Simcha7:51Teshuva has to be done b’simcha as well. How do the merirus haLev that is built in to teshuva coexist with doing it b’simcha? In terms of human experience, we do know that people can have contradictory emotions simultaneously. Logically, it is like someone who has to undergo painful medical treatment to overcome some condition; the treatment can be very unpleasant, but he is happy to undergo it in order to be cured. So he simultaneously experiences the pain of the treatment and joy/relief of knowing that he will be cured.
59Hischadshus. Torah as a Source Thereof.12:55Hischadhus, renewal, is very important. Yomim tovim bring spiritual hischadshus, and on the natural level we need some breaks / variety as well, and hence appropriate vacations are correct to take as well. Is there a daily source of hischadshus? “Bechol yom yihiyu b’einecha k’chadoshim” Sfas Emes: because Torah is objectively chadash; it is l’ma’alah min hazeman and therefore doesn’t age or get stale. To the degree to which we are on that madreiga, we don’t need vacations, but we should be realistic about where we are holding. We should not confuse the ideal and the real.
60Chanukah: Hallel and/vs. Hoda’ah9:10Hoda’ah – acknowledge that even the darkness of galus Yavan itself was l’tova. The avodah is to recognize that adversity is designed to elicit a certain reaction from us that is for our good.
61Hashgacha & Bechira Chofshis; Taking Responsibility in All Situations19:15Yosef seems to exonerate the brothers – he is saying it is all due to Hashgacha. Sfas Emmes: one of the wonders of Hashgacha is that HKB”H coordinates people’s bechira with what He wants to happen; someone else’s bechira will only succeed in affecting me if it is nigzar min haShomayim that it will impact me. We have free choice to do as we will, but the impact it has on others will be calibrated by Hasgacha. There is a yetzer hara to shift blame and absolve ourselves of dealing with things, but regardless of whether we are at all at fault in a situation or it is simply a challenge we are faced with, the correct response is to figure out what response is called for from me. Looking for the correct and productive response is both more correct and healthier than passively just shifting blame to someone else and not rising to the challenge / growing.