Israel Forever

For the week ending 4 October 2003 / 8 Tishri 5764

Escaping the Trap

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

The Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is called "Shabbat Shuvah" because the Haftara which is read on the Shabbat between the inscribing and the sealing of Divine judgment begins with the words "Shuvah Yisrael".

On his call upon the People of Israel to repent their ways and return to G-d and His Torah, the Prophet Hosea offers a challenging and encouraging message in the very first sentence of this Haftara. "Return, Israel, to G-d," he calls, "for you have been trapped by your sins."

How relevant that call is to our current situation in Israel can be appreciated by taking note of the trap into which the nation has fallen both in regard to security and economy. Our secular leaders are certainly making a maximum effort to get out of this trap and we pray for their success in this new year. The Prophet reminds us, however, that escaping this trap is not dependent on military action, diplomacy and economic programs alone. Our spiritual shortcomings, he points out, are the ultimate roots of our problems and only by correcting them can we hope for Divine deliverance from our trap.

Lest any Jew be discouraged by heeding the Prophets call because of the gap he perceives between himself and the Creator he has abandoned, Hoshea comforts him with the thought that with a little start in the right direction his return can reach all the way to the Heavenly Throne. "Open for Me the eye of a needle," G-d has encouraged us, "and I will open for you the widest corridors."

Is there a better guarantee for escaping the trap we are in?

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