There is a mitzvah called והלכת בדרכיו to emulate Hashem’s middos. By following and exercising Hashem’s 13 attributes of compassion and mercy, we trigger from shamayim a similar flow of mercy and compassion for ourselves. Chazal relate (Berachos 6) that Hashem also performs mitzvos, for instance the mitzvah of tefillin. Of course this must be understood on the esoteric and Kabbalistic level for Hashem does not possess a body as we do. The Chazal are portraying that just as our fulfillment of the mitzvah of tefillin creates a flow of light and spiritual energy upon us and into the world, so too Hashem’s tefillin represents a spiritual flow of deep connection and love to Am Yisrael ומי כעמך ישראל גוי אחד בארץ.
One fascinating mitzvah that Hashem has is the mitzvah of teshuvah. In order to understand this statement and before we cite the source for this unique concept, we must first put aside the common notion that the sole purpose of the mitzvah of teshuvah is for repairing sins and wrong doings that we have committed, whether they are between man and man or between man and Hashem. The fundamental of teshuvah is regret over a past deed. Hashem can also manifest regret over something that He created. In fact Chazal tell us that the prophet Micha (4,6) writes ואשר הרעותי and Rashi explains אני גרמתי להם שבראתי יצר הרע I caused AmYisrael to act with evil because I created within them a yetzerharah. Would it not have been for the evil inclination they would have not done aveiros. Hashem by making this incredible declaration is taking upon Himself partial responsibility for our sins!
How does this play itself out when we were given a yetzer harah for the sole purpose to have bechirah free choice? This statement from Hashem seems to suggest that Hashem has regret for creating Man the only unique creation in the universe that possesses free will. The Zera Kodesh from Ropshitz explains this Chazal as follows. When Hashem sees the teshuvah of a Yid which includes the regret and anguish the sinner feels after the aveirah, He kiviyachol feels regret for creating the yetzer hara which caused the Yid to fall and thereafter to be pained. By having this regret, Hashem thereby weakens the overwhelming strength of the yetzerharah’s drive to incline Man to do evil and go against the will of Hashem. This weakening of the yetzer harah’s force enables and gives Man the ability to withstand the seductions of his yetzer hara.
Without Hashem’s intervention the yetzer hara would be so strong that to overcome evil one would have to possess a super spiritual energy which most people lack. As the gemarah in Kiddushin 30b says
ואמר ר”ש בן לוי יצרו של אדם מתגבר עליו בכל יום ומבקש המיתו שנאמר צופה רשע לצדיק ומבקש להמיתו ואלמלא הקדוש ברוך הוא עוזרו אין יכול לו שנאמר אלהים לא יעזבנו בידו
The yetzer hara gets stronger every day and seeks to cause death to Man. Would it not have been for Hashem’s aid, Man would fail in his endeavor to defeat it. This aid that comes to man originates with man’s act of teshuvah. The process of teshuvah displays the sinner’s regret over his deeds, and it triggers the same characteristic of teshuva and regret by Hashem in that He created such an evil force to kill man. With Hashem’s teshuva it weakens the yetzer hara’s power of superiority over Man and gives Man the ability to overcome it.
This is the meaning of the passuk (Malachi 3,7) שובה אלי ואשובה אליכם. Return to Me and I will return to you. This is to be interpreted that Hashem says if you will do teshuvah and regret doing aveiros then I too will do teshuva and regret creating the yetzer hara to be so powerful and thereby weaken him for you in order for you to overcome it.
The Rebbe from Ropshitz also interprets another passuk (Devarim 30,3) with the same theme. ושב ה’ אלקיך את שבותך ורחמך By Man doing teshuvah on earth שבותך, he will cause ושב ה’ אלקיך that Hashem will also do teshuvah and ורחמך He will have compassion on you by regretting the creation of such a powerful yetzer hara and thereby weaken it to the point of enabling you to defeat it.
The Zera Kodesh writes that this concept is also found in the first passuk of this week’s parsha כי תצא למלחמה על אויביך ונתנו ה’ אלקיך בידך ושבית שביו when you go out to battle with your enemies Hashem will deliver them into your hands and you will take captives. This passuk is also referring to the daily spiritual war that one wages with his arch enemy the yetzerhara. Don’t be afraid to fight with your yetzer harah thinking that battling with it is futile since it is much more powerful than you. Just go out and fight with first ושבית, doing תשובה. For with your teshuvah you will cause שביו, which translates as His (Hashem”s) teshuvah. Hashem will also do teshuva concerning the creation of the yetzer hara and He will weaken it enabling you to defeat it completely.
We can take this concept of the Zera Kodesh and apply it to the first two pessukim that we read in the Haftorah of Shabbos Shuva. שובה ישראל עד ה’ אלקיך קחו עמכם דברים ושובו אל ה’. What does the second passuk add ושובו אל ה’ which was not stated already in the first passuk? We can interpret this as follows. The Navi tells Am Yisrael to do teshuva עד ה’ אלקיך until Hashem which means to the point that Hashem will follow you with Him doing teshuvah by regretting creating a yetzer hara possessing super strength. If you will ask but how that be possible when He cannot sin? The Navi therefore adds קחו עמכם דברים take with you the incredible words of the pessukim in the Torah which attest to Hashem’s teshuvah such asושב ה’ אלקיך and ושבית שביו. When one realizes that with the power of teshuva he receives a special siyata dishmaya to overcome the lures of his yetzer hara, he will not merely succumb and surrender before his enemy but rather he will fight with all his strength generated by the koach of his teshuva. He will then find that the enemy will be delivered into his hands.
A side thought for contemplation
Our chachamim have revealed to us that current world events point a finger at Klal Yisrael to bring to us awareness and a wake up call crying out alarmingly that Hashem is very concerned and unhappy with our present matzav. The Satan is always prosecuting us making our conduct to look disgraceful in the eyes of Hashem which chas veshalom causes the middas Hadin to flare up resulting in וחרה אף ה’. The present catastrophic disaster in Afghanistan which involves thousands of Americans and locals, and a reverse takeover by the barbaric Taliban, is a red flag to us as well. Just look into the name of Afghanistan which is composed of three words in Lashon Hakodesh: ofאף anger, גנות disgraceful, and שטן Satan. Am Yisrael had enough mournful tragedies during this year. It’s now at this time in the month of Elul that we must cease pressing the snooze button between Hashem’s wake – up calls and immediately do some soul searching and make some changes in our ruchniyus. In lightning fashion of 48 hours, the enemy has taken over Kabul the capitol in which is now the focus and the place of danger where tens of thousands of people can brutally lose their lives.
In the process of teshuvah there is also a Kabul – ידך פשוטה לקבל שבים. Hashem’s hand is stretching out to us to Kabul, waiting to receive those who return to Him. The Taliban’s presence is felt and in total control. This hints to us טלי – that Hashem is my dew as it is written (Hosheiah 14,6) אהיה כטל לישראל and we are his בן His child as it is written בנים אתם לה’. Rosh Hashana is almost here. Time is running out. Seize the moment!
– Rav Brazil