Parshas Shlach
Numbers 13:1 - 15:41

"How To Be Forgiven" ©

Am I Doomed by My Intentional Sin?
By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of the weekly parsha is dedicated in the loving memory of Mr. Paul Sakash, may he rest in peace.

The Stone Chumash notes the words of Ramban, Rabbi Moshe ben Nahman, (Moreh Nevuchin 3:41). "Ramban contends that although the traditional exegesis interprets this passage {Numbers 15:30,31} with reference to idolatry, it applies by extension whenever someone sins because he defies the truth of any part of the Torah. For anyone to claim that a particular commandment does not apply to him or that he has the right to pick and choose among the commandments is blasphemous and worthy of the condemnation stated in this passage."

Let's review the passage Ramban is discussing,

And the nefesh that make {SIN} with high handedness, {whether} from the native-born or from the convert, scorns Hashem; cut off the nefesh of that one from within the nation. Because he has despised Hashem's Word and broken His Commands, that nefesh must surely be cut off; his guilt remains on him.

Let's put this in perspective. This statement from Hashem immediately follows the procedure for atonement of accidental, unintentional and unwitting sins. These were sins that happened along the way. They were not premeditated. They were not planned. They were not intended to be defiant. They were thoughtless sins. They were spontaneous sins. Many were unrealized even as sins. There is a very big difference between this category of sin and deliberate, defiant, premeditated, high handed sins. Just the same, that does not let us off the hook for our sins.

There are several points that stand out in this verse:

First, the address from Hashem is to that part of us called the nefesh. We will term the nefesh as the entrance level of the soul. Many translations replace nefesh with the word person in this passage. This clouds the meaning. The word nefesh occurs 640 times in Tenach. It is translated often as living, life, soul, heart, mind and person.

Second, Hashem did not speak to the animal nature in us. The address was to the spiritual part of us, the eternal part of us. It is to the part of us that existed in a unique world of souls before entering our body and will again exist in a unique world of souls after departing our body.

Third, the word nefesh here is singular but the intent is to Kal Yisroel, to every native born and to every convert. No Jew is excluded even though the address here is individual.

To understand this better all that is necessary is to look around and to examine our own actions. Who among us has not sinned deliberately and defiantly? Who has not acted with premeditation in their heart and sinned knowing it was a violation of Hashem's Torah as defined by Ramban? Each of us knows, we have INDIVIDUALLY scorned and embarrassed Hashem and shamed the Torah. That being the case, WE ARE DOOMED! Many would say YES, Hashem has clearly stated, "...cut off the nefesh of that one from within nation.". Even worse, Hashem says, "his guilt remains".

Does this mean we are sentenced to wander through life carrying our increasingly heavy pack of deliberate, defiant, premeditated, high handed sins? NO!

Dovid Ha Melech was also involved in a deliberate, defiant, premeditated, high handed sin by killing Uriah and taking his wife, Bath-sheba... as his (Dovid Ha Melech's) wife. In addition the novie, Nathan, said, "Why have you despised the Word of Hashem to do this evil in His eyes?" From this we see Dovid Ha Melech was guilty of this very serious sin. What did he do? How did he react?

Dovid Ha Melech immediately owned his own actions. He recognized his sin! He confessed his sin. He didn't hesitate! He didn't fudge on words. Dovid Ha Melech said, "I have sinned against Hashem." The incredible beauty of Dovid Ha Melech is that he understood his sin was against the Torah of Hashem.

Awhile back, a person received a note from an administrator who clearly wronged him. On the day of his leaving that institution, he was verbally abused, embarrassed and humiliated by the administrator three times in public before 10:30 in the morning. Prior to terminating his employment, he looked directly into the administrator's eyes and said, "I am leaving this institution because of you." This administrator followed him into the secretary's office, then into the hall and then into the parking lot screaming unkind things at him. It was a sad, sad day in his life. In a brief note written many months later, the administrator had trouble admitting his sin. That is a common problem for many of us. He stated, "I wish to apologize for any pain and hurt that I may have caused..." It sounds like an apology. It looks good on paper, but it lacks clearly defined ownership for his sin! This administrator knows he caused pain and embarrassment yet he is struggling with ownership. That was unfortunate...

Dovid Ha Melech did not struggle like many of us do. He acknowledged his wrong immediately, beginning the path of repentance. That was not easy for someone in a highly visible position as King of Yisroel.
His failure to live in the righteous manner required by the Torah resulted in much contempt for Hashem. That is the situation when any standard bearer of Torah falls. It creates enormous contempt by the enemies of Hashem.

Dovid Ha Melech's failure was horrendous. His fall was great, but his rise through shuvah was phenomenal. We see the beauty of his rise in tehillim. His tremendous shuvah is recorded in Psalms 51. Because of Dovid Ha Melech's fall we have a King as a guide, leading us back from our deliberate defiance of Hashem. He confesses his sin and requests graciousness, kindness and mercy. He pleads with Hashem to blot out his transgressions and to rebuild the broken walls of Jerusalem damaged by the contempt from his sin. He describes his place of shuvah as being cognizant of his sin and being broken in spirit and humbled in heart.

Anyone who has failings of high handedness can join our leader Dovid Ha Melech on the road to shuvah.

Other Related Subjects:

Making A Visible Change

But I Said I'm Sorry

Separting From Parents Who Are In Error

Family Problems

If I Have Done Anything To Offend You

Wishing you the best,

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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