Growing Each Day by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski

Tevet 6
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"My transgressions are known to me and my sin is ever before me" (Psalms 51:5).Lo, I was begotten in sin, and my mother conceived me in iniquity (ibid. 7).

In this heart-rending psalm, David begs for forgiveness for his relationship with Bath-Sheba.

While David does state that he was "begotten in sin," or in other words, that he may have been born with the character trait of intense passion, he does not cite it to free himself of guilt. In verse 5, he owns up to his transgression and does not try to absolve himself. David accepts full responsibility for his behavior, even if it comes from an inherited trait.

How refreshing is this thought! How different it is from the teachings of modern psychology, which so often scapegoat parents and excuse even the grossest misbehavior by arguing that the person was a victim of early-life experiences or influences that distorted his or her values, and hence should not be held responsible for subsequent misdeeds.

In this exquisite psalm of teshuvah (repentance), David rejects this position. He says that we must assume responsibility for our behavior, regardless of factors from our past.

Today I shall...

try to avoid projecting blame onto others, and accept full responsibility for whatever I do.

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

Comments (3)

(3) cl, December 24, 2009 2:55 AM

totally agree with article

Refreshing indeed! I have seen people giving up all vestiges of decency because they blame their terrible childhood. We are humans and could make mistakes, but to keep on sinning with the thought in mind that "I'm excused for my behavior because of what happened to me during my life" is inexcusable. Making our own bad choices hurts us more than any bad life-expiriences which are challenges given by G-d for us to grow from.

(2) mysteries, December 23, 2009 5:02 PM


There are times when one can feel sorry for oneself and have emotions of sadness. One lets all their system go and there comes an outpouring of self pity. To avoid such calamities one should think that if such behaviour is carried out what will happen ?, who can be hurt ?, what can be gained ? , is it acceptable? It should not be a question of can one get away with it ? or will it make one happy ? If one is trying to get sympathy from others then then one should take the opportunity to seek counsel and not just wallow in the attention.

(1) Dvirah, December 23, 2009 2:36 PM


In fairness to the psychologists, it should be noted that attributing behavior patterns to childhood "traumas" is meant to help the patient understand his/her behavior, not to excuse it. The responsibility for changing the behavior still lies with the patient.


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