Day 17-18-19: Impediments to Teshuvah

Day 17-18-19: Impediments to Teshuvah

English Translation Follows

4.1

עֶשְׂרִים וְאַרְבָּעָה דְּבָרִים מְעַכְּבִין אֶת הַתְּשׁוּבָה.  אַרְבָּעָה מֵהֶן עָווֹן גָּדוֹל; וְהָעוֹשֶׂה אֶחָד מֵאַרְבַּעְתָּן–אֵין הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מַסְפִּיק בְּיָדוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹת תְּשׁוּבָה, לְפִי גֹּדֶל חֶטְאוֹ.  וְאֵלּוּ הֶן:  (א) הַמַּחְטִיא אֶת הָרַבִּים; וּבִכְלַל עָווֹן זֶה, הַמְּעַכֵּב אֶת הָרַבִּים מִלַּעֲשׂוֹת מִצְוָה.  (ב) וְהַמַּטֶּה חֲבֵרוֹ מִדֶּרֶךְ טוֹבָה לְדֶרֶךְ רָעָה, כְּגוֹן מַסִּית וּמַדִּיחַ.  (ג) וְהָרוֹאֶה בְּנוֹ בְּתַרְבּוּת רָעָה, וְאֵינוּ מְמַחֶה בְּיָדוֹ–הוֹאִיל וּבְנוֹ בִּרְשׁוּתוֹ אִלּוּ מִחָה בּוֹ הָיָה פּוֹרֵשׁ, וְנִמְצָא כְּמַחְטִיא אוֹתוֹ; וּבִכְלַל עָווֹן זֶה כָּל שֶׁאפְשָׁר בְּיָדוֹ לְמַחוֹת בַּאֲחֵרִים בֵּין רַבִּים בֵּין יְחִידִים וְלֹא מִחָה, אֵלָא יַנִּיחַ אוֹתָן בְּכִשְׁלוֹנָן.  (ד) וְהָאוֹמֵר אֶחֱטָא וְאָשׁוּב; וּבִכְלַל זֶה הָאוֹמֵר אֶחֱטָא, וְיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים מְכַפֵּר.

4.1 There are twenty-four things that impede teshuvah. Four of them are serious sins, and God does not allow the one who commits them to do teshuvah because of their severity. These are they:

1) One who causes many to sin, and this category includes one who prevents others from doing good.

2) One who tempts another away from the good path; for example, one who incites or instigates.

3) One who sees his child moving in a bad direction and does not rebuke him. Since his child is under his authority, if he were to rebuke him, the child would in turn reform himself, and therefore it is as if the parent caused the child to sin. Also included in this category is one who has it within his power to rebuke others, whether individuals or many people, and fails to rebuke them, rather leaving them to the consequences.

4) One who says, “I will sin and I will repent,” and included in this category is one who says, “I will sin, and Yom Kippur will provide atonement.”

4.2

וּמֵהֶן חֲמִשָּׁה דְּבָרִים הֶן נוֹעֲלִין דַּרְכֵי הַתְּשׁוּבָה בִּפְנֵי עוֹשֵׂיהֶן; וְאֵלּוּ הֶן:  (א) הַפּוֹרֵשׁ מִן הַצִּבּוּר–לְפִי שֶׁבִּזְמָן שֶׁיַּעֲשׂוּ תְּשׁוּבָה, לֹא יִהְיֶה עִמָּהֶן וְאֵינוּ זוֹכֶה עִמָּהֶן בַּזָּכויּוֹת שֶׁעוֹשִׂין.  (ב) וְהַחוֹלֵק עַל דִּבְרֵי חֲכָמִים–לְפִי שֶׁמַּחְלֻקְתּוֹ גּוֹרֶמֶת לוֹ לִפְרֹשׁ מֵהֶן, וְאֵינוּ יוֹדֵעַ דַּרְכֵי הַתְּשׁוּבָה.  (ג) וְהַמַּלְעִיג עַל הַמִּצְווֹת–שֶׁכֵּיוָן שֶׁנִּתְבַּזּוּ בְּעֵינָיו, אֵינוּ רוֹדֵף אַחֲרֵיהֶן וְלֹא עוֹשָׂן; וְאִם לֹא יַעֲשֶׂה, בְּמַה יִזְכֶּה.  (ד) וְהַמְּבַזֶּה רבּוֹתָיו–שֶׁדָּבָר זֶה גּוֹרֵם לָהֶן לְדָחְפוֹ וּלְטָרְדוֹ כְּיֵשׁוּעַ וּכְגֵיחֲזִי, וּבִזְמָן שֶׁנִּטְרָד לֹא יִמְצָא מְלַמֵּד וּמוֹרֶה לוֹ דֶּרֶךְ הָאֱמֶת.  (ה) וְהַשּׂוֹנֵא אֶת הַתּוֹכָחוֹת–שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא הִנִּיחַ לוֹ דֶּרֶךְ תְּשׁוּבָה, שֶׁהַתּוֹכָחָה גּוֹרֶמֶת לִתְשׁוּבָה, שֶׁבִּזְמָן שֶׁמּוֹדִיעִין לוֹ לָאָדָם חֲטָאָיו וּמַכְלִימִין אוֹתוֹ, חוֹזֵר בִּתְשׁוּבָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בַּתּוֹרָה:  “זְכֹר, אַל-תִּשְׁכַּח” (דברים ט,ז), “מַמְרִים הֱיִיתֶם” (דברים ט,ז), “וְלֹא-נָתַן ה’ לָכֶם לֵב וכו'” (דברים כט,ג), “עַם נָבָל, וְלֹא חָכָם” (דברים לב,ו).  וְכֵן יְשַׁעְיָהוּ הוֹכִיחַ אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַר “הוֹי גּוֹי חֹטֵא” (ישעיהו א,ד), “יָדַע שׁוֹר קֹנֵהוּ וכו'” (ישעיהו א,ג), “מִדַּעְתִּי, כִּי קָשֶׁה אָתָּה” (ישעיהו מח,ד); וְכֵן צִוָּהוּ הָאֵ-ל לְהוֹכִיחַ לַחַטָּאִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמָר “קְרָא בְגָרוֹן אַל-תַּחְשֹׂךְ” (ישעיהו נח,א).  וְכֵן כָּל הַנְּבִיאִים הוֹכִיחוּ לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, עַד שֶׁחָזְרוּ בִּתְשׁוּבָה.  לְפִיכָּךְ צָרִיךְ לְהַעְמִיד בְּכָל קָהָל וְקָהָל מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל חָכָם גָּדוֹל וְזָקֵן וִירֵא שָׁמַיִם מִנְּעוּרָיו וְאָהוּב לָהֶם, שֶׁיְּהֶא מוֹכִיחַ לָרַבִּים וּמַחְזִירָן בִּתְשׁוּבָה.  וְזֶה שֶׁשּׂוֹנֵא אֶת הַתּוֹכָחוֹת, אֵינוּ בָּא לַמּוֹכִיחַ וְלֹא שׁוֹמֵעַ דְּבָרָיו; לְפִיכָּךְ יַעֲמֹד בְּחַטֹּאותָיו, שְׁהֶן בְּעֵינָיו טוֹבִים.

And among them are five things that close the doors to the ways of teshuvah, and these are they:

1) One who separates from the community, for at the time that they repent, he will not be among them and will not receive merit along with them.

2) One who quarrels with the words of the wise, for his dispute will cause him to separate from them, and he will not know the ways of return.

3) One who ridicules the commandments. Since they are insignificant in his eyes, he will not seek to fulfill them, and if he does not fulfill them, what will be his merit?

4) One who demeans his teachers, for this causes them to push him off and distance him as Jesus and Gehazi. When he is ostracized he will not find a teacher to show him the true path.

5) One who hates rebuke, for he does not allow himself a way to do teshuvah. Rebuke is a cause for teshuvah, for when a person is informed of his misdeeds, and feels ashamed, he will repent, as it is written in the Torah (Deuteronomy 9:7), remember, and do not forget…you were rebellious, and God did not give you a heart (2:6) a foolish, unwise people. Similarly, Isaiah rebuked the Jewish people, saying (Isaiah 1:4) O sinful people (1:3) the ox knows is master (48:4) I know that you are difficult. God commanded him to rebuke those who transgress, as it is written (58:1), call out from your throat, do not hold back. Thus did all the prophets rebuke the Jewish people so that they would return in teshuvah. Therefore every single Jewish community must appoint a great sage, elderly and God-fearing from his youth, well-loved by the people, who will rebuke the community and cause them to return in teshuvah. One who hates rebuke will not participate in this rebuke, will not hear his words, and therefore will remain in his sin, considering his behavior good.

4.3

וּמֵהֶן חֲמִשָּׁה דְּבָרִים הָעוֹשֶׂה אוֹתָן אי אִפְשָׁר לוֹ שֶׁיָּשׁוּב תְּשׁוּבָה גְּמוּרָה, לְפִי שְׁהֶן עֲווֹנוֹת שֶׁבֵּין אָדָם לַחֲבֵרוֹ, וְאֵינוּ יוֹדֵעַ חֲבֵרוֹ שֶׁחָטָא לוֹ, כְּדֵי שֶׁיַּחְזִיר לוֹ אוֹ יִשְׁאַל מִמֶּנּוּ לִמְחֹל לוֹ; וְאֵלּוּ הֶן:  (א) הַמְּקַלֵּל אֶת הָרַבִּים–לֹא קִלַּל אָדָם יָדוּעַ, כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּשְׁאַל מִמֶּנּוּ כַּפָּרָה.  (ב) וְהַחוֹלֵק עִם גַּנָּב–לְפִי שְׁאֵינוּ יוֹדֵעַ גְּנֵבָה זוֹ שֶׁלְּמִי הִיא, אֵלָא הַגַּנָּב גּוֹנֵב רַבִּים וּמֵבִיא לוֹ וְהוּא לוֹקֵחַ; וְעוֹד שְׁהוּא מְחַזֵּק יַד הַגַּנָּב, וּמַחְטִיא אוֹתוֹ.  (ג) וְהַמּוֹצֶא אֲבֵדָה וְאֵינוּ מַכְרִיז עָלֶיהָ עַד שֶׁיַּחְזִירָהּ לִבְעָלֶיהָ–לְאַחַר זְמָן, כְּשֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה תְּשׁוּבָה אֵינוּ יוֹדֵעַ לְמִי יַחְזִיר.  (ד) וְהָאוֹכֵל שֹׁר עֲנִיִּים וִיתוֹמִים וְאַלְמָנוֹת–אֵלּוּ בְּנֵי אָדָם אֲמֵלָלִין הֶן וְאֵינָן יְדוּעִים וּמְפֻרְסָמִים, וְגוֹלִים מֵעִיר לְעִיר, וְאֵין לָהֶם מַכִּיר, כְּדֵי שֶׁיֵּדַע שֹׁר זֶה שֶׁלְּמִי הוּא וְיַחְזִירֶנּוּ לוֹ.  (ה) וְהַמְּקַבֵּל שֹׁחַד לְהַטּוֹת דִּין–אֵינוּ יוֹדֵעַ עַד הֵיכָן הִגִּיעָה הַטָּיָה זוֹ וְכַמָּה הוּא כּוֹחָהּ כְּדֵי שֶׁיַּחְזִיר, שֶׁהַדָּבָר יֵשׁ לוֹ רַגְלַיִם; וְעוֹד שְׁהוּא מְחַזֵּק יַד זֶה, וּמַחְטִיא אוֹתוֹ.

There are five things that prevent a person from complete teshuvah, since they are sins between one person and another, and one cannot know whom he has harmed such that he might repay him for his loss, or beg forgiveness. These are they:

1) One who curses a large number of people, without specifying a particular individual, such that he might later beg his forgiveness.

2) One who shares stolen property with a thief. Since he does not know the origin of the stolen property [to return it], as the thief sold him property taken from many people. Furthermore, he supports the thief and his sinful behavior.

3) One who finds lost property and does not announce it, so that the property may be returned to its owner. He may later do teshuvah, but he will not know who should receive the lost object.

4) One who consumes extorted property owned by the poor, orphans and widows. These are downtrodden people, they are not well known, and they wander from city to city, and there is no one who will say, “whose property is this?” such that it will be returned.

5) One who accepts a bribe to pervert justice. He does not know how far the implications of this judgment will reach, nor the extent of its impact, such that he might rectify it, for there was some basis for the judgment. He also supports the person who offered the bribe.

Translation from Maimonides on Teshuvah (5th edition, 2017)

Image: The Invisible World, by Rene Magritte

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3 thoughts on “Day 17-18-19: Impediments to Teshuvah

  1. I’m surprised at the reference to Jesus, and that it wasn’t expunged by the Inquisition. Any explanations? Just sayin’. You don’t have to answer.

    1. Good question. Jesus is in fact expunged from the European editions (either by Church censorship or, more likely, by Jewish editors to get past the censor). This translation is based on the more scholarly Frankel edition, which makes use of Yemenite manuscripts.

      1. Very interesting. Thank you for your response. Incidentally – and you probably know this resource already but, just in case – The Bodleian Library has tons of Hebrew manuscripts with and without translations. I just randomly searched for ‘RASHI’ on their website, and this is what I came up with: http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/whatson/discover/online/crossing-borders/religious-traditions-shared-by-jews-and-christians-the-menorah Best wishes, Lucille

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