Acknowledging the Truth by Rabbi Moshe Wender

From Volume 2 Issue 2  


      Chazal tell us that the people of the Dor Hamabul had numerous chances to repent from their evil ways before they were destroyed.  Noach was occupied for 120 years with the tedious process of building an ark.  There were many ways that Hashem could have spared Noach's family without forcing him to toil for such a lengthy span, but He wanted to offer this golden opportunity to do Teshuvah to the rest of the world population ash (Rashi).  While Noach was working very laboriously on the Ark, people inquired, "What are you doing?".  He replied, "Hashem is bringing a flood upon the entire world.  Only the righteous individuals will be spared.  Please, repent immediately!"  At first Hashem brought the rain waters down lightly with compassion.  Humanity once again, according to Rashi, had a final opportunity to sincerely experience remorse for their previous actions.  Remarkably, with their entire existence in jeopardy, the people of the Dor Hamabul still refused to repent.

      People are often blinded by arrogance and self righteousness.  Even when faced with irrefutable evidence that they are doomed, it is often impossible nonetheless for people to swallow their pride and admit to their shortcomings.  The most difficult word for a man to express is "Chatati" - "I have sinned".

    In Parashat Bereishit we read that Adam HaRishon, when confronted with his sin of having eaten from the forbidden Etz HaDa'at, blamed his action on the woman that Hashem had given him.  The Sforno comments that Adam was given an opportunity to do Teshuvah and to admit his sin, yet he ungraciously blamed his action upon somebody else, and ultimately, on his Creator.  The woman, whom Hashem had given him, was the source of his deficiency, he claimed.  Adam HaRishon with all of his brilliance and perceptivity was able to rationalize everything and fool himself.  Even after he ate from the tree, at a point when his desire for the tree was no longer present, Adam couldn't bring himself to say "Chatati".

      We too must constantly recheck our motivations, pinpointing the exact source of all our feelings, and determine whether they are holy or self-serving.  How careful we must be to study ourselves, holding up our actions and feelings to the light of the Torah's truth, and to acknowledge our mistakes with intellectual honesty.