Sorry, Still Sorry: Ha’azinu 2019

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: In the evening service recited immediately after the end of Yom Kippur, there is a passage asking God to forgive our sins. Why would we recite this passage at that time, so soon after spending the previous 24 hours repenting? Is there no end to asking for forgiveness?

As we read Moses’s final song to the Israelites, sin and repentance are very much on his mind:

The Pitch: “Children unworthy of Him — that crooked, perverse generation — their baseness has played Him false.” – Deuteronomy 32:5

Swing #1: “As regards the transgressions to which he is driven by lust, man can plead inability to conquer the strong evil impulse which God Himself has created and implanted into man … but he can offer no such excuse for sins he has committed out of lack of faith, because sins of that sort are not caused by physical appetites.” – Ketav Sofer

Swing #2: “If any mitzvah becomes expendable in his eyes, God forbid, then the organ corresponding to that mitzvah becomes blemished in the end. For in the [sin] of speaking [evil speech] … ‘You shall not go talebearing among your people,’ most of which [sin] inheres in the mouth.” – Shemirat HaLashon

Swing #3: “When their [baseness] is in them, they are not His children. When their [baseness] is not in them, they are His children.” – Sifrei Bamidbar

Late-Inning Questions: What do our commentators understand to be the origins of our mistakes? To what extent are they caused by emotional, physical, or psychological struggles? Should repentance be a year-round endeavor? Is it realistic to concentrate on repentance that consistently?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: Be sure to attend our congregational meeting on Sunday, beginning at 10:15AM, to hear updates on Synagogue activities and to participate in focus groups to share your thoughts about selecting its next spiritual leader. Stick around for lunch sponsored by Dr. Michael Kogan at noon, and then for a forum of candidates to represent Charleston’s 9th District in City Council starting at 1:00PM.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of apologies, on a recent episode of the podcast “Revisionist History”, Malcolm Gladwell hypothesizes that the reason that Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte sounded so insincere when apologizing for taking steroids is because Pettitte didn’t think he had done anything so terrible to begin with. As baseball’s steroid scandal “peaked” more than a decade ago, should we reevaluate the ethics of those who used performance-enhancing drugs?

Shabbat Shalom!