A Drash for Shabbat Shuva 5767
Today’s haftarah is a composite: Hosea 14:2-10; Micah
7:18-20 and Joel 2:15-27. The special name for this
Shabbat, “Shabbat Shuvah,” is taken from the first
phrase in the opening section from Hosea:
“Shuvah Yisrael ad Adonai Elohecha”
(Return, O Israel, unto Adonai
your God). It is usually
assigned to this Shabbat
during the 10 Days
Today’s Torah portion HaAzinu is an admonishment (first
part) and comfort (second part) in which the heavens are
called on as witness for our actions.
At the end of the admonishment, we read Ch 32, v 35: “Mine
[God’s] is the office of avenger and retribution [Hirsch
translation]”. If retribution belongs to God, what
belongs to us?
The answer is that Tsuvah belongs to us. But in what sense do
we own Tsuvah?
Tsuvah belongs to us in the sense that we can choose to do it
We can choose to conduct our Tefillah as a way of reaching
towards an attachment to God with great kavanah. Or we
can choose to conduct our Tefillah in a rote and
automatic fashion or in a distracted
We can choose to give Tdzedaka as a duty to God and as
justice to those who are in need.
Or we can choose to give Tdedaka in a grudging
and obligatory fashion.
We can choose to seek to find the essence of goodness in
ourselves and in others – back to our roots in Godliness
and discovering them as our true character.
Or we can seek to interpret the behavior of
others in a mean-spirited way.
And once we have made this choice, then what?
Shabbat Shuva comes around EVERY year to remind us
hat even after we have made the choice of Teshuva,
we still need to work ourselves.
It is always possible to rise higher and there is always room
for improvement, for an even deeper and more infinite
level of teshuva, as G-d is Infinite and without
These Days of Awe, in which are now in the middle, are about
our ability to choose and our ability to change (on that,
next week). Tsuvah is ours, but only if we choose it
– but not once, continuously because Tsuvah
is without end.