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The Power to Repent


Torah Portion: Parashat Chayei Sarah (“the life of Sarah”)

Shabbat: Nov. 19, 2022 / Cheshvan 25 5783

Torah: Gen. 23:1-25:18

Prophets: 1 Kings 1:1-31

New Covenant: Matt. 1:1-17, 1 Cor. 15:50-57


And Peter, remembering, said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.” So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” Mark 11:21-26


Rabbi Israel Salanter (1809-1883), the father of the "Musar" movement, once said, "When I was young, I wanted to change the world. I tried, but the world didn't change. So I decided to change my town, but my town didn't change. Then I resolved to change my family, but my family didn't change. Then I realized that I first had to change myself." To his wise words I would add the essence of the matter: "but then I realized that I couldn't change myself, so I cried to the LORD for a new heart and He answered my plea..."

We can only truly change when we die and are brought back from the dead by the power of God. As Yeshua said, "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (John 12:24). We must be spiritually reborn, remade, transformed, "metamorphosed" by the grace and love and kindness of God. This is the miracle of genuine teshuvah (repentance).

Contrary to the laws of "karma" and worldly wisdom, God helps those who can't help themselves... He delights to take the weak and broken and establish them with divine power, for the glory of His own Name. He confounds the mighty of this world with the "foolish" heart of faith. Blessed be His Name forever and ever...

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