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OPEN WIDE

by Avi Lowenstein    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

Our rabbis have taught that in the act of repentance, one need only create an opening the size of a pinpoint and Hashem will open it as the entrance to a great hall. It is only through this preliminary effort put forth by man that Hashem brings redemption.

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Our rabbis have taught that in the act of repentance, one need only create an opening the size of a pinpoint and Hashem will open it as the entrance to a great hall. It is only through this preliminary effort put forth by man that Hashem brings redemption. In this week's Torah portion, verse 12:23 states that Hashem passed over those houses with blood on their doors. Rashi, an 11th-century French commentator, offers another basic understanding to this phrase. According to Rashi, instead of interpreting the Hebrew word "pasach" as passed over, it could also mean "took pity." How are we to understand this basic interpretation in light of the first explanation?

As we have mentioned, Hashem brings redemption only after man attempts, even minimally, to return to Him. The Children of Israel, immersed in Egyptian morals and culture, were unable to return to Hashem even in a minimal nature. Accordingly, Hashem took pity on them and passed over the fact that they had not even attempted to return. Hashem Himself carried out the redemption from beginning to end.

Similarly, in this week's Haftorah, Hashem promises that He will redeem the Children of Israel. "And you, don't fear, my servant Jacob, and don't be dismayed Israel, because behold I will save you from afar, and your seed from the land of their captivity..." (Jeremiah 46:27). Why must the verse relate that the Children of Israel will be redeemed "from afar"? If they are needy of redemption, does this not imply that they are in some way distanced from Hashem? Our Rabbis have taught that the ultimate redemption can come in one of two ways. If the Jewish people return to Hashem then the redemption will come early. On the other hand, if the Children of Israel, G-d forbid, do not return, the redemption will occur in its predestined time. Thus, in the Haftorah, Hashem comforts the Jewish nation, telling them that even if they have sunk to a level at which repentance is close to impossible, the redemption will still come.

May it be the personal goal of every member of the Jewish people to return to Hashem, making even just a small opening. Then, collectively, we will merit an early redemption and witness Hashem's hand turning our pinpoints of repentance into great entrances of redemption.

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Avi Lowenstein is currently a junior at the Yeshiva High School of Atlanta.

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