Growing Each Day by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski

Tammuz 1
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Transgressions against a fellow man are not forgiven by Yom Kippur until one makes amends (Yoma 85b).

Prior to the High Holidays, a man asked his rabbi for guidance in doing proper teshuvah. Among other things, the rabbi instructed him to make a list of all the people he had harmed, because unless one obtains forgiveness from those whom one offended, teshuvah is incomplete.

Before Yom Kippur, the man returned and showed the rabbi the list he had made of people he had harmed. "Your list is incomplete," the rabbi said. "Go back and finish it."

The man was bewildered. How could the rabbi know whether the list he had made was complete or not? Nevertheless, he gave it greater consideration and indeed added several names to the list. To his surprise, the rabbi again rejected the list as being incomplete.

"What is it that you want of me?" the man asked. "You forgot to put yourself at the top of the list," the rabbi said. "When you do improper things, you harm yourself. Not until you realize that improper behavior is self-destructive can your teshuvah be complete."

This is an extremely important point. Indeed, Moses stressed this in his final message to the Israelites. I have placed before you life and death, blessing and curse ... to love your God, obey him and cleave unto him, that is your life (Deuteronomy 30:19-20). Moses made it clear that fulfilling the Divine will is life, and deviating therefrom is self-destructive.

Just as we might be considerate of others not to harm them, we should also show the same consideration for ourselves.

Today I shall...

realize that transgressing the Divine will is self-destructive, and make a commitment to preserve my life.

With stories and insights, Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...

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