Simon moved up north and noticed that there was no supermarket in his area. He opened up a very popular store and within a few years was earning a staggering £20,000 a month. Business was great. He had a fantastic team of workers. One day his accountant had to urgently leave the country. His mother was unwell. He resigned and Simon quickly found a ‘budding’ accountant, Richard, to take over. The business continued to flourish – so it seemed. At the end of the year, Simon’s friend approached him and told him, I don’t know whether you are aware – but you are in a major loss for the year.
Simon was shocked. “Are you sure?” “Yes, either someone’s taking produce from the inside, or it’s your new accountant.”
Simon investigated through all the data and found out the problem lay square with the accountant.
As the accountant, he had an easy hand on signing cheques. Every time supply came in and he needed to return VAT he added a further 20% on top of the amount needed to return to the
supplier. In effect he was throwing away the business. Of course, none of the suppliers complained at their extra share and the company was now in a heavy loss.
Simon called in the accountant. Do you know what you have done? “No sir.” Simon proceeded to explain the situation, he was furious. “You are giving away our hard earned money; you have lost £100,000. You owe it to me and I want it back.” Richard was lost for words. He had no idea. Simon raised his voice – “So what are you going to do about it?” “I am truly sorry”.
“That’s not enough; you should mortgage your house and pay back the money you lost.” Simon insisted. “Oh, I don’t own my house, I just about get by the wage you give me in order to
feed my eight children. I wish I could help, I am so sorry.” replied Richard. Simon was lost for words. Again he repeated “So what are you going to do about it?”
Again the answer was sorry. Now Simon lost his temper; “Get out your fired!”
Richard already shocked began to cry, pleading with his boss, “please, it’s before Rosh Hashanah, you can’t leave a family of eight children without food. Please it won’t happen again, I am truly sorry.”
The cries reached Simons heart and he gave him one more chance. The next year, Simon came back to overlook at the progress. This time he was even more shocked. The business had suffered a worse triple digit loss.
He investigated and found out that the Richard was again at fault. He brought him in and asked him to explain the loss. Richard burst out crying, I am so sorry, I will make sure it won’t happen again.
At this stage imagine you are Simon – what would you do?
Let us turn for a moment to the prophet Yechezkel. Yechezkel the prophet was exiled to Babylon 11 years before the destruction of the first Bet Hamikdash. Yechezkel described the frightening extent of the people’s social and political demoralization which threatened to spread over the land of the exiled. He devoted his energy to the nation repenting (Teshuva) and being dedicated to Hashem in exile. At one stage he is faced by the people who tell him that Teshuva will not help. They see no point to Teshuva. They don’t seem to understand how it is possible to gain atonement after all their sins.
Yechezkel (33:11) responds with an oath from G-d: “I swear, says Hashem, that rather than wanting to have the sinner die because of his sins, I want him to repent from his bad ways and live.”
It seems now that G-d has made a promise the people comprehend that Teshuva is possible. What happened here? Why the need to promise and how come now they understand?
If we find that Hashem makes a statement and swears to its veracity, you can be sure that it would otherwise be impossible to believe.
The people understood the depths of corruption caused by sin; they could not possibly see how Teshuva could change that. They had sinned constantly and although they were ready to repent, they didn’t understand how repentance
Thus Hashem swears and tells them that it CAN work. The concept of Teshuva is not normal, if we break an expensive ancient plate, we will never be able to renew it.
Hashem has granted us a Neshamah (soul). Sometimes we injure the soul through our sins. Is there a way out? Can we fix it? Surely it’s beyond repair.
No! Hashem SWEARS – there IS a way back – Teshuva. When Hashem says something of course we believe. When He swears, it’s because He understands that it is very difficult for us to believe. Nevertheless He swears to encourage us that it’s possible.
A similar idea is mentioned in the Yerushalmi Makot (2:5):
Wisdom was asked, “What is the proper punishment for a sinning soul?” Wisdom responded, (Mishlei 13:21), that sinners will suffer from their sins. There is no way out. Prophecy was asked the same question and answered, (Yechezkel 18:4) a sinning soul must die. Hashem was asked and He responded, “Let the soul repent and it will be atoned (Tehillim 25:8).
According to logic a sinner should suffer, there should be no way out. Once we have made the boss lose over and over again, how can the boss still employ us? It doesn’t make sense.
It is only through G-d’s Kindness that he has blessed us with a beautiful gift of Teshuva that Hashem allows us to wipe away all the sins and start again.
It’s not easy – it requires effort, but with the right introspection and repentance we get to start on a new leaf. One of the greatest present a person can have is the opportunity to renew, to wipe away any minuses and start again.
Hashem’s Hands are always open to us throughout the year, yet on Yom Kippur Hashem exhibits a special closeness to us. He approaches us like a father. No matter how far a son is, the father always exhibits love for his son. The father yearns for his sons return. We pray – Avinu Malkenu – our Father our King – help us come back.
Hashem grants us this special day, a time when He approaches us and awaits for us to return to him. Let us take advantage of this great present, concentrate on at least one aspect of remorse and llingness to improve.
Its hard work, but we don’t want to miss out on this fantastic present and opportunity.
G-d has faith in us, He loves us, let’s reply and show Him we are his Children.
Tizku Leshanim Rabot Tovot VeNeimot.