28 September 2017

Erev Yom Kippur Can Make A Tikun For the Previous Year

9 Tishrei 5778
Erev Yom Kippur

(Excerpted from The Book of Our Heritage by Rabbi Eliyahu Kitov)

It's a mitzvah to eat and drink heartily on Erev Yom Kippur.  ...all who eat and drink on the 9th, and fast on the 10th, are considered by Scripture as if they had fasted on both the 9th and the 10th.
The reason why eating on the ninth is considered so great a deed that it is equivalent to having fasted, is that by doing so, we show our joy that the time for our atonement has arrived; ...since we cannot partake of a festive meal on Yom Kippur, we do so on Erev Yom Kippur instead; ...[it] provides us with the physical strength needed on Yom Kippur to focus ourselves on prayer, supplication and reflection that will lead us to teshuvah.
...Although it is a great mitzvah to eat heartily on Erev Yom Kippur, one should be careful to eat only those foods that are easy to digest....

(See further The Mitzva to Eat on Erev Yom Kippur.)

Rav Yehudah Richter says if we eat well (what is good for us and in proper amounts) and with proper intention and say all the brachot correctly and with intent, we can thereby make a tikun for all the sins we made with regard to eating for the entire past year. 


Please forgive me for any offense I've given to you over the past year. I promise it was purely unintentional and I'll try to do a better job this year.

 G'mar chatimah tovah and Chag Sameach

"Fear Should Motivate Us, Not Paralyze Us"

8 Tishrei 5778

Jews have been making aliyah from love of the mitzvah yishuv ha'aretz for a very long time. I'm afraid that time is now coming to an end to be followed by a relatively short period of aliyah from fear. HKB"H prefers that we respond to Him from love, but He'll accept fear as a motivator if that's what it takes.

It is unfortunate that the consequences in the aftermath of these natural disasters are not as well publicized as the lead-up to them. Take this account for example...
A friend had this posted on their page from a friend of theirs who’s on Puerto Rico. Think it would be any different in most cities?
“My family has lost everything. My uncle with stage 4 cancer is in so much pain and stuck in the hospital. However conditions in the island are far worse than we imagined and my greatest fear has been made reality. The chaos has begun.
The mosquitos have multiplied like the plague. Dead livestock are all over the island including in whatever fresh water supplies they have.
My family has been robbed and have lost whatever little they had left. The gang members are robbing people at gun point and the island is in desperation. People are shooting each other at gas stations to get fuel.
They’re telling us to rescue them and get them out of the island because they are scared for their lives. We’re talking about 3.5 million people on an island, with no food, no drinking water, no electricity, homes are gone. Family if you have the means to get your people out, do it.
This is just the first week. Imagine the days and weeks to come.
These are bad people doing bad things to our most vulnerable. Imagine a few weeks with no resources and the most vulnerable become desperate.
What are you capable of doing if your children are sick and hungry? We have to help.”
Multiply this by the millions suffering in the wake of similar disasters in recent weeks - all over the globe. Whether due to storm, flood, or earthquake, the survivors are lacking the most basic supplies to sustain life - food, water, and sewage disposal. They are being plagued by insects, hungry packs of roaming animals, disease-infested and chemical-tainted water. There is no relief from the heat. The jobs disappeared into the rubble left behind. And to top it all off, they must contend with fellow human beings who are taking advantage of the situation for their own evil desires.

This is not the end. It's just the beginning of greater horrors to come - worse disasters spread over a greater area and affecting even more people. Don't be like the obstinate people of Noah's day who refused to heed the warnings.
Yalkut Reuveni: "...the depths will rise up and flood the world, and there will remain the Land of Israel, which will be like the Ark of Noah."
Get on board the ark while you still can because one day not so far off, the door will close and HKB"H will seal it shut. Does the idea scare you? I hope it does. I hope the fear motivates you to do the right thing and does not paralyze you into immobility. 

Choose right. Choose life. And HKB"H will help!

Anonymous - We Have Never Seen Anything Like This Before!

27 September 2017

Who Needs To Repent? And Who Can Forgive?

7 Tishrei 5778

Some well-meaning Jews who do not understand the depth of the depravity of Christianity and who accept what Christian-Zionists tell them at face value without listening to the subtext which is ever there with every word they speak, are hailing Tommy Waller's plea for forgiveness from the Jewish community as a "watershed event."


Quoting from the video...
"...My appeal is to my Christian brothers and sisters: Please stop any missionary attempt to take away Jewish identity from those whom God chose to carry His name." 
So, did he really say "stop proselytizing"? Absolutely not! He said stop "trying to take away Jewish identity." He believes, as many other Christians, that Jews will be more willing to accept their man-god messiah if they are allowed to continue asserting their identity as Jewish, more specifically as "messianic Jewish." (See my post from yesterday for further elucidation.)

In fact, Tommy Waller is trying to walk a fine line which is really two parallel lines. When he is with Jews, he's on one line and when he speaks to Christians he's on the other. He's not going to be able to keep this up forever. At some point he'll have to make a choice or the choice will be made for him. Already, he was forced to come out with this video because of negative feedback from the Jewish side. But, all this kind of thing does is bring concomitant negative feedback from the Christian side.

Note the following comment in response to this JPost article on Tommy Waller's facebook page today:
I Don't agree with you in this matter. The Jews need to be saved as also the Gentiles need to be saved. All humans must Come in God's Kingdom through Yeschua Hamaschiach.
To which Tommy Waller replied:
My statement in the video was not about who is saved and who is not saved. ...My statement is about repentance.
Tommy has become a master of the word games missionaries play with Jews to keep them unsuspecting. Back in May, I shared a letter written by one of the HaYovel volunteers which demonstrates this nicely.

It concerned a haskamah that Rabbi Melamed issued on behalf of Tommy Waller and HaYovel in which the rabbi said the following: 
In the course of our conversation, I asked him: “If a Jew were to come before you and ask you whether it is better to be a Jew or a Christian what would you tell him?” He responded: “I would tell him to be a Jew!” Tommy added that he had not always thought this way. Originally, like other Christians, he was interested in everyone becoming Christian, but eventually he realized that this earlier position was the result of ignorance. Now, following his exposure to the Jewish renaissance in the Land of Israel, he wishes for all Jews to observe the Torah and mitzvot.
Apparently, this did not set very well with the Christian supporters back home, because one of the volunteers felt the need to offer some kind of explanation:
...I want to be careful to not put words into Mr. Tommy's mouth, but I can tell you how I understand this comment. It has a lot to do with definitions. To a Jewish mind, to become a Christian is to reject the majority of God's word. Anything that is clearly Jewish in observance is rejected - the Shabbat, the Holy days, eating kosher, etc. In the past (as I mentioned before) during times of persecution, when Jewish people did convert to Christianity under force, they were not allowed to do those things under threat of death. They still understand that to be "Christianity" today. They don't understand yet that someone can live a life as an observant Jew and believe that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah.
I understand Mr. Tommy's quote here to mean that he would never encourage a Jewish person to leave his Scriptural lifestyle, his observance of the Bible, (as they understand it) to become a "Christian" who leaves behind his love and obedience of God's word. 
I say again that Tommy Waller's well-publicized plea to the Jewish community for forgiveness is nothing more than a recently-invented ploy to be used as an evangelism tool.

In addition to the loss of Jewish identity, Christians are being told that past antisemitic actions by Christians is one of the stumbling blocks to Jews coming to faith in Yeshu. Ergo, this silly, unBiblical (for Jews OR Christians) public proclamation of repentance on behalf of past generations and the seeking of forgiveness by present-day Jews on behalf of past generations of Jews. Both actions require the exercise of will from the parties involved. Neither repentance nor forgiveness can be given on behalf of another.

This is all tied up with Jewish evangelism as demonstrated by this article written over two years ago:
(Excerpt) Grant Berry - Below is the prayer that Pastor Glenn Harvison wrote for himself and the church that he pastors. As he read it to me, all I could do was weep. My response and prayers of forgiveness on behalf of the Jewish people to the church are on the video.
My Personal Act of Identification Repentance
Grant, in the presence of God, I would like to address you as a representative of the Jewish people, and as a representative of Jewish believers in Y'shua.
I speak, today, representing myself, representing my present family and representing the past generations of my family.
In the presence of God, I want to confess my sins, and the sins of my family, in the area of racism and especially anti-Semitism.
I ask God for His forgiveness, and I humbly ask for your forgiveness, on behalf of the Jewish people, for any and every anti-Semitic prejudice, thought, word, gesture and deed on my part, and on part of the members of my family, present and past.
I ask God for His forgiveness, and I humbly ask you for your forgiveness, on behalf of the Jewish people, for any and every failure to show the love and dignity due to the Jewish people as fellow human beings, and, especially, as God's beloved covenant people.
It goes on, but you get the idea. Sound familiar? Sounds a lot like what Tommy Waller just released via youtube, facebook, JPost and BIN (may they be accursed along with any other Jew collaborating with Christians). 

In the same vein, another article from last year recounts all the persecution perpetrated upon Jews by Christians in the past and remarks...
Would you as a Christian, want to be associated, much less believe in such a person – in whose name, such grievous acts were done? The sad reality is that Christians have done all of the above and much worse to our Jewish brothers and sisters for close to 2000 years, and all in the name of Christ.
The author then opines...
...an even more grievous act has been done to our Jewish brethren by Christians. And that is the stealing of the Jewish Messiah-Yeshua (the real Hebrew name of Jesus) and disfiguring Him and His teachings, so that no Jew would even want to know about Him.
Which brings us to the re-Judaization of Yeshu along with his Hebrew apellation and the re-identification of Christianity with its so-called Hebrew roots. It's all about claiming Jewish souls for Yeshu. 

As long as there is a Christianity, Jewish souls will be sought for Chr*st. As long as Jews don't fall for their tricks, they won't succeed.

RELATED: How to Share the Gospel with Your Jewish Friends

26 September 2017

"There's Nothing New Under the Sun"

6 Tishrei 5778

I regret that the subject of the first post of the new year will be Tommy Waller, but evil doesn't take holidays. In fact, it seems to ramp up around the holidays. Even now, Xians are pouring into Israel for "The Feast", as they do every year at this time, and all of them are looking for a weak place through the Jewish armor to reach the Jewish soul and steal it for Yeshu.

A few people have asked my opinion about the new video of Tommy Waller calling on his fellow Xians to renounce "replacement theology." Sadly, I must tell you that absolutely nothing has changed here.

Since the beginning of their ministry, the Wallers have said that they do not want Jews to become "Xians," i.e., give up Jewish practice and ritual, but they do want them to be "messianic" Jews, i.e. believers in Yeshu (without giving up Jewish ritual).

Giving up replacement theology simply means agreeing that Jews, as Jews who believe in Yeshu and go to "synagogue" instead of church, ALSO have a place alongside the rest of Christendom. This is just a last, sad and bad attempt on the part of Xians to reel in the Jewish fish by trying to convince them that they can live on the land and yet remain fish.

In the past, a Jew who believed Yeshu was the messiah had to convert to another religion, leave the synagogue forever and go to church. As a demonstration of his sincerity, he was required to eat a ham sandwich. Why? Because, according to the Xians of those times, God was through with the Jews and had a new people known as the church. If a Jew wanted to be counted as part of God's people he had to give up on being a Jew and become a Xian.

What Tommy Waller and his fellow "Israel-loving" Xians claim to have suddenly discovered is that a Jew can remain a Jew and still come to faith in their Yeshu, who is also reclaiming his Jewishness in these latter days. They still believe that only those who put their faith and hope in Yeshu will be redeemed, but it includes both those who identify as Jewish as well as those who identify as Xian. The two are "one new man" with their shared belief in Yeshu and together they are equal heirs of the promises made to the forefathers: Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'aqov.

Tommy's little speech is absolutely nothing new. It's the same thing Jews for Jesus has been saying for the past fifty years.

See here, here and here.

This is my message to Tommy Waller:

This is just another misguided attempt to convince Jews to take another look at Yeshu, to present him and his message in a more acceptable light. Your problem is - you are still wrong. Yeshu was NOT a good Jew. He was NOT god. He was a man who sinned and died for his own sins. He saved no one, not then, not now and not ever. He never was and never will be the Messiah.

There is some perverseness in the hearts of Xians who can come so close to the truth and yet fail to recognize it and embrace it. Your judgment and consequently, your punishment, will be especially severe. I urge you to consider the possibility that you could be mistaken. That is your first step towards real salvation.

19 September 2017

Rosh Hashanah: It's Not Just About Apples and Honey

29 Elul 5777
Erev Rosh Hashanah

It takes effort to stay focused on the main idea of this holiday. HKB"H has the right to sit in judgment of His creations on this day because He is the King of all. When we truly recognize that inescapable fact, we will repent completely because all of our sins are just rebellion against His sovereignty.

On Rosh Hashanah we submit ourselves to HKB"H's sovereignty over our lives and our destiny. We repent of our rebellions and renew our loyalty and faithfulness to carry out His will.
Three Basic Prayers of Rosh HaShanah: Malchuyot, Zichronot, Shofarot
Three descriptions, so to speak, of G-d, through which we can relate to Him, are contained in the Mussaf Prayer of Rosh HaShanah. They are as follows:
1) Malchiyot – Kingliness:
G-d is the incomparable King of The Universe. The destiny of humanity is to come to this realization. Whereas human kings rule in accordance with the principle of :”might makes right,” G-d is the Holy King, Who is, at the same time, beyond comparison in His power, “Vas er vil, Tut er” – “Whatever He wills, He can do,” yet He is also the Father of the orphan and the Judge of the widow, Who is always on the side of the powerless.
He is the Incorruptible and Righteous Judge of the World, Who favors no one, and cannot be bribed.
He is the true G-d and His word, the Torah, is true and eternal.
2) Zichronot – Remembrances:
We recognize that Hashem is above Time, and the idea of “forgetting” does not apply to Him, nor is He limited in “understanding” the inner thoughts of His creatures. Nevertheless, we ask that He “remember” only the “good” in our behalf when He Judges us.
For all of humanity, for the whole world is Judged today, we ask that He “remember” the faith of Noach who endured taunts and threats for 120 years while he built the Ark, and tried to explain its purpose to his wayward generation.
For the Jewish People in particular, we ask that He “remember” the early loyalty of our People, who followed Him as a bride, as He said “I remember your youthful devotion, the love of your bridal days, how you followed Me through the desert, in a barren land” (Yirmiyahu 2:2) and later as a precious child, “Is it because Ephraim is my favorite son, my beloved child? As often as I speak of him, I remember him fondly. My heart yearns for him, I will have pity on him, says the L-rd.” (Yirmiyahu 31:19)
Most of all, we ask that He “remember” the supreme act of devotion performed by our fathers Avraham and Yitzchak, where Avraham suppressed his natural feelings of mercy towards his son, and was prepared to sacrifice him at the command of G-d, and Yitzchak was prepared to be sacrificed, thereby suppressing his natural feelings of self-preservation, in fulfillment of G-d’s command. So should G-d suppress, so to speak, His Midat HaDin, His Attribute of Strict Justice, which would require that we be punished for our misdeeds, in favor of His Midat HaRachamim, His Attribute of Mercy.
3) Shofarot – Blasts of the Shofar:
We recall the time that G-d revealed Himself on Mt. Sinai and gave us the Torah.
“The whole world trembled at Your Presence, Creation shook in awe before You, when You, our King, did reveal Yourself on Mt. Sinai to give to Your People the Torah and its Commandments, letting them hear your majestic voice, your holy words out of flashes of fire. Amid thunder and lightening did You reveal Yourself to them, amid the sound of the Shofar did you appear to them.”
The Shofar will be blown during the final battles of Israel with its enemies.
It will be sounded when our Exiles return.
It will be sounded when the Temple will be rebuilt.
It is the sound signifying the Presence of the majesty of G-d.
We ask that it be sounded again with the arrival of the Mashiach.
AMEN!! May the Holy One, blessed be He, be merciful to us and grant us forgiveness for all our transgressions and bless us with an eternal salvation in the coming new year 5778!

G-D Help Us! If Mashiach Does Not Come Soon...

28 Elul 5777

...even the illusion of Israel being "The Jewish State" will no longer exist. Israel will be nothing more than the 51st State of the United States of America!
Survey finds Israeli Jews seek separation of religion from state
Religion and State Index finds 86% of Israeli Jews believe state should ensure freedom of religion and conscience for all of its citizens, while 65% call for equal rights and recognition to non-Orthodox Jews; 82% think ultra-Orthodox schools must be require to teach core curriculum subjects, while 36% call to conscript all yeshiva students.
...Support for a separation of church and state is on a constant rise, jumping from 56 percent in 2012 to 68% in 2017.
There's the "two-thirds" who won't make it!
“This is the first time that we have an American flag flying in an IDF base."
How is this base different from the eight other US bases in Israel? The fact that they are publicly acknowledging it?

And while we're at it, why is this in Jerusalem???

If You Haven't Yet Begun, It's Not Too Late

28 Elul 5777

17 September 2017

Weird-Looking Sky - UPDATED

27 Elul 5777

Yesterday, shortly before havdalah, we noticed the post-sunset sky had a strange glow to it and was a weird yellowish color long after the sun had gone. 

Today, it's electric orange and glowing red. Anybody else notice it? I've never seen anything like it. The pictures really don't do it justice. This is looking towards Jerusalem.

UPDATE 18/09/17

This is a reader-submitted photo taken from RBS yesterday

 And this is what it looks like from my house today. Strangely, almost no color at all.

Space Weather Has Become Stormy, Too!

26 Elul 5777

NASA warns we are still being battered by SOLAR storms

The biggest solar flare seen for 12 years erupted from the sun earlier this week, causing radio blackouts on Earth.

Two high-intensity solar flares were emitted, the second of which was the most intense recorded since 2005, the Space Weather Prediction Centre (SWPC) said.

Now, NASA has revealed the storms are continuing, with what the space agency says is a ‘mid-level solar flare’ that peaked at 3:49 a.m. EDT today.

This is the sixth sizable flare from the same active region since Sept. 4, NASA said.

It is expected to cause auroras to be visible over northeast America, and aurora has been seen as low as Alabama and northern California

The earlier flares knocked out radio communications for one hour on the Earth’s side facing the sun, as well as low-frequency communications used in navigation.

Monster Solar Flare Marks 7th Powerful Sun Storm in 7 Days

Solar Storms: 7 Large Solar Flares Erupt in 7 Days

Stormy conditions may be back in time for Yom Kippur.

14 September 2017

"Be Steadfast With Hashem"

24 Elul 5777
Erev Shabbat Kodesh

"The last Shabbat of 5777 - the last haftarah of consolation..."

Rabbi Mordechai Sitorsky

Parashat Nitzavim: Be Steadfast With Hashem


12 September 2017

"Orthodox DEFY Jewish Law"

21 Elul 5777

The term "Orthodox" has become meaningless. 

Houston: Orthodox ERTs Defy Jewish Law, Spearhead Church Cleanup

Amazing story of Israeli rescue team helping pro-Israel Christians in Houston
An Israeli search and rescue team is helping churches damaged by flooding during Hurricane Harvey...
Some with warped hearts and twisted minds will call this a kiddush Hashem, but it is just the opposite. "'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,' says Hashem.'

Leaving Eretz Yisrael to go abroad to rebuild avodah zarah?!!!! 
...ZAKA Chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, says he is proud of the hard, physical work his volunteers are performing for everyone in need in Houston. “Our sages tell us that God created man in his image. Not just Jews, but all men,” he added in a statement.
...“As a humanitarian organization, we help all those in need, regardless of religion, race or gender,” noted ZAKA Chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav. “Today, our team contacted Pastor Becky Keenan from the Gulf Meadows Church, and we are working with the Christian community in the area as well. It was particularly meaningful for Pastor Keenan that a team from the Holy Land has come to offer help.”
To add insult to injury, Evangelical "Pastor" Becky Keenan is particularly keen on evangelizing Jews in Israel.

Meeting IDF Soldiers - One With Israel Educational Adventure

11 September 2017

A Period of Grace

20 Elul 5777

"...With an upraised hand (Harvey) and with an outstretched arm (Irma) and with poured out fury (Jose?)."

Clearly, HKB"H is waiting to see if real teshuvah is going to come out of the first two before letting loose with the third one.
After Irma, are we going to get clobbered by Hurricane Jose next?
While all eyes in South Florida are fixed on the coconuts and construction cranes being flung about by Hurricane Irma, her not-so-little brother Jose is capering about in the Atlantic north of Puerto Rico, doing some kind of weird spinning in a circle fandango that current forecasts say could leave the storm pointed right at South Florida at the end of the week.
Like Irma, Jose is a major storm, with 130 mile-per-hour winds. At the moment, it's about 1,000 miles east-southeast of Miami, and an entirely schizophrenic attitude about where it wants to go.
The National Hurricane Center, in its most recent advisory, forecasts the Category 4 Jose over the next five days going slightly northeast, looping back west, spinning south, then east again — "sort of like tying a knot," as one of the center's hurricane specialists said. (Though, when it all takes place at 130 mph, the more accurate simile might be, like a teenager with a hot car doing donuts in the parking lot.)
When all this back-and-forth ends on Friday, the center expects Jose to be sitting about 600 miles away, facing Miami. But where it goes from there, at least right now, is pretty much anybody's guess.
"And I shall take you out of the peoples, and I shall gather you from the lands in which you were scattered, with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm and with poured out fury."
--- Yechezkel 20.34

07 September 2017

"What Does NOT Prevent Redemption..."

16 Elul 5777



"In Its Time, I Will Hasten It"

16 Elul 5777

A military drill unprecedented in its size and scope began day before yesterday in Israel's north and is purportedly scheduled to end next Thursday which is 23rd Elul. That date is significant because it was the Hebrew date on September 11, 2001.

In light of this morning's news of an aerial attack on a Syrian weapons facility, one must consider whether this is the "sudden small attack" referenced below.

Thousands of troops to stage mock war with Hezbollah in largest drill in years
Tens of thousands of soldiers as well as ships and aircraft will take part in 10-day exercise from Tuesday; army says timing unconnected to current Iran tensions.
...Tens of thousands of soldiers, including thousands of reservists, will take part in the exercise,....
...The exercise will simulate a conflict with Hezbollah that starts with a sudden, small attack and develops into full-scale war.
...The number of reservists taking part in the drill is also “unprecedented,”....
...In addition, the IDF Home Front Command will practice its “Safe Distance” plan, in which civilian populations along the Lebanese border will be evacuated farther south in order to keep them out of harm’s way, as the military believes that in a future conflict Hezbollah would try to send fighters to attack northern Israeli communities and their inhabitants.
“The decision to carry out the transfer of communities will be made at the political level, with the intention of preserving the safety of the citizens of the State of Israel,” the military official said.
The officer would not specify which communities would be evacuated during the exercise.
It occurs to me that our government takes no action without first obtaining permission from TPTB. What if they have given Netanyahu the green light with the expectation that they will back him up, but it's just a trap to draw us in and then abandon us to our fate? Completely according to HKB"H's plan, of course.

05 September 2017

The Sun Threw A Fit Today!

15 Elul 5777

It's not just Earth in turmoil...

Knowledge Is Power: Empower Yourself

15 Elul 5777

Check out this new blog...



See also:

Wildfires rage in 8 Western states

...If it stays on track and reaches the Florida Straits, the water there is warm enough that the already “intense” storm could become much worse with wind speeds potentially reaching 225 mph, warned Kerry Emanuel, an MIT meteorology professor.

“People who are living there (the Florida Keys) or have property there are very scared, and they should be,” Emanuel said.

...“Puerto Rico has not seen a hurricane of this magnitude in almost 100 years,” Carlos Anselmi, a National Weather Service meteorologist in San Juan, told The Associated Press.

Authorities warned that the storm could dump up to 12 inches (31 centimeters) of rain, cause landslides and flash floods and generate waves of up to 23 feet (7 meters). Government officials began evacuations and urged people to finalize all preparations as shelves emptied out across islands including Puerto Rico.

“The decisions that we make in the next couple of hours can make the difference between life and death,” Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said. “This is an extremely dangerous storm.”

"Who By Fire, Who By Water"

14 Elul 5777

Second Largest American City

Fourth Largest American City

04 September 2017

"The Six Obstacles to Teshuvah"

14 Elul 5777

Why Is It So Hard to Change? The Six Obstacles to Teshuvah
by Abraham J. Twerski | September 19, 2012 in Jewish Living

“Of course a person should do teshuvah, but I am a bit puzzled. I observe Shabbos, I keep kosher and taharas hamishpachah. I daven every day, I attend a Daf Yomi shiur and I am honest in my business dealings. What exactly should I do teshuvah for?”

People may not actually say this, but some certainly think this way. Yet King Solomon said, “For there is no man so fully righteous that he always does good and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). Even the greatest tzaddik is not free of sin. How, then, can a person who is quite far from being a perfect tzaddik not feel a need to do teshuvah?

Several psychological defense mechanisms tend to discourage an individual from changing, from doing teshuvah. The obstacles to teshuvah are denial, rationalization, trivializing, projection, habituation and ego.

1) Denial

Throughout Tanach, the prophets repeatedly exhorted the Jewish people to abandon their errant behavior, but as is evident from the Scriptures, they were not very successful. Isaiah explains why. “Surely you hear, but you fail to comprehend; and surely you see, but you fail to know. This people is fattening its heart, hardening its ears and sealing its eyes, lest it see with its eyes and hear with its ears and understand with its heart, so that it will repent and be healed” (Isaiah 6:9-10). No psychology text can improve on Isaiah’s description of denial. Because people are intent on doing whatever they wish, they resort to denial, one of the best-known defense mechanisms so that they are unaffected by the reality of what they see and hear.

We are creatures of habit, and we are comfortable when we can do things without the need to exert much effort. Change is uncomfortable, and in order to avoid this discomfort, our minds block out those realizations that would call for change. The natural state of all matter—including human beings—is inertia, but one must force himself to overcome inertia in order to grow and change.

2) Rationalization

Denial enables a person to maintain the status quo. When reality threatens to overcome denial, the mind employs other defense mechanisms to reinforce the denial—such as rationalization. One of the themes in Proverbs is the tendency to rationalize. Ramchal says, “If a person is confronted with one’s laziness, one will doubtless come back with many quotations culled from the sages and the Scriptures and with intellectual arguments, all supporting, according to his misguided mind, his leniency with himself” (Mesillas Yesharim, Chapter 6).

Denial is not always possible, so the mind is very clever in rationalizing; in other words, justifying one’s actions by giving logical-sounding reasons for them. The Torah stresses the gravity of speaking lashon hara, for example, which requires both teshuvah vis-à-vis Hashem and forgiveness from the victim. Oftentimes one who speaks lashon hara may attempt to justify his behavior by claiming “But it’s the truth!” Defamatory speech is lashon hara, even if it is true.

3) Habituation

The Talmud says that when a person does a forbidden act several times, it loses its opprobrium. Habituation enables one to think that these transgressions are permissible. His conscience is lulled into thinking, It’s really not so terrible. Thus, even though the morning minyan begins promptly at 6:30 am and ends at 7:05, there are some minyannaires who habitually show up at 6:45 and leave before everyone else. They are so accustomed to arriving late and davening at breakneck speed, they see nothing wrong with it.

4) Projection

One who projects onto another will not be able to do genuine teshuvah. Sins committed against another person are not forgiven on Yom Kippur unless one has obtained forgiveness from the offended individual. The defense mechanism of projection turns things around: I did not offend him. He offended me. He should really be apologizing to me.

5) Trivializing

The tendency to trivialize halachah is another impediment in the road to teshuvah. I missed Minchah, but I was so busy at the office. Anyway, it’s not a big deal. Or, I chatted with my friend during the Reading of the Torah, but doesn’t everybody? (This is the only sin for which the Shulchan Aruch says, “There is no forgiveness.”)

6) Ego

Inasmuch as teshuvah for an offense against another person requires that one make amends and ask forgiveness, there is ego resistance to humbling oneself, apologizing and making restitution where required.

One of the axioms of human behavior is that a person will always choose to do that which is most comfortable for him. We find that an addict will not agree to change until he hits “rock-bottom,” i.e., that the pain incident to the addiction is greater than the pleasure it provides. This is equally true of the non-addict. Therefore, oftentimes individuals only agree to change when they have reached rock-bottom.

But what can constitute rock-bottom for the non-addict? A person who contemplates his life goals and sees that his behavior is jeopardizing his reaching those goals may reach rock-bottom. But this requires giving serious thought to defining one’s goals and purpose in life. Confronting death can usually lead to such introspection. I recently attended the funeral of a great talmid chacham. A man next to me said somewhat somberly, “Reb Z. is taking along with him much Torah and mitzvos. What will I be taking along?”

The first chapter in Mesillas Yesharim is entitled “A Person’s Obligation in His World.” The theme of Mesillas Yesharim is the refinement of one’s character. Changing one’s character traits is a major challenge and is usually met with great resistance. Many times real change won’t happen until one realizes that unless one does so, his life is meaningless.

Uncompromised honesty is necessary to see through the psychological defenses that are a barrier to teshuvah. Rosh Hashanah, the Ten Days of Penitence and Yom Kippur are days in which one should be inspired to evaluate the meaning of one’s life. Only when we are aware that we need “fixing” will we do teshuvah.

The founder and medical director emeritus of Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, Rabbi Abraham Twerski, MD, is one of the country’s leading experts on drug and alcohol rehabilitation. He is the author of numerous books and his column is regularly featured in Jewish Action.

This article was featured in Jewish Action Fall 2012.