God Help Us

 

Moshe Ben-Chaim

 

 

 

Talmud Yoma 38b quotes a verse in Proverbs (3:34) ďTo the scoffers He scoffs; but to the humble He shows graceĒ. This teaches that if one wishes to sin, Heaven does not interfere; he is scoffed at since he scoffed at Godís laws. But if one wishes to repent, he is divinely assisted by Godís grace. The Talmud also teaches that sin numbs a person to the evil of sin, that each sin allows him to sin more easily next time, and even allows him to affect his reward in the next life.

We wondered 1) if God helps us repent, why wonít God prevent one from sinning; 2) why do we even need help repenting; and 3) what connection is there with the following statement that sin numbs man to its evil?

 

We concluded that God acts only to assist man, so when man sins; he veers from cases in which God intervenes for man. He is left alone. We also realized that the second statement that sin numbs us, explains why God must step in to assist man when we desire to repent. For after we have sinned, we are more steeped in the instinctual drives, and we are not the same person we were prior to sinning. We have become more attracted to sin. Thus, we need assistance to repent, as we are not strong enough to extricate ourselves alone.

 

We learn that just as God created mankind for mankindís good, God continually guides us when we wish to realign ourselves with His wishes for us. Now as Elul has begun, may this be the case that we hear the ramís horn Shofar, recalling the ram Abraham offered in place of Isaac, reminding us of the perfection of both Abraham and Isaac. May their righteousness inspire us all to carefully follow the Torah, and reject all idolatrous and superstitious beliefs and practices that Abraham rejected.