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1. Repentance 101. 1.1.

Few weeks ago, individual came to see me Rabbi, having issues at home wife complaining not home enough, not sensitive, trying this and that, finally coming to see me Tell me what to do and say, give me a script, what are the rules, if I can just get it straight Ill have it all solved. What I explained something we all know intuitively is that we live in a rules based world do abc and outcome will be xyz, in truth life in more than mechanical deeds, its about humanity embedded within them. 1.2. You would think that our relationship with G-D should be no different. Not just about saying few words banging chest; about inner feeling regret sincere firm resolution for future. Indeed is the case. While verbalization important, whats going on inside essential. 1.3. Strange therefore that in describing verbalization of Vidui halacha states fairly simple procedure, in fact all of three words Aval anachnu chatanu But we have sinned. 1.4. If already going so far as to reduce it to a few words, why not be more economical simply say chatanu we sinned and get over with it. Seems peculiar that add word aval but we have sinned. 1.5. I believe that far from making life easier these few words aval anachnu chatanu and especially word aval provide framework for proper change. In fact can go further to say that almost all our mistakes can be attributed to this one word Aval. Statement Aval (BUT) anachnu chatanu directing our attention to the most crucial point of all. 2. Were all good. Really. 2.1. Most would agree that people in general good. Even pessimists cynics when pushed would agree. True, some real evil people. Exception to rule. When look at ourselves usually believe we are good. On the other hand youll be hard pressed to find person who will admit they are perfect. How then do we reconcile for self the two. Answer is: Aval But. 2.2. When faced with misbehavior first thing: But rationalization. True I sinned, but Either: 1) not that bad 2) not my fault 3) let me explain 2.3. Loophole in law of decency. Know the need to behave in such a way but, this is the exception 2.4. The Aval allows us to maintain sense of purity righteousness complacency. I can explain it all away 3. The Aval of Josephs brothers: 3.1. Let me share an idea. Perhaps most notable difference in attire is shoes. Why? Let me share interesting reason: to atone for sale of Joseph by brothers for a pair of shoes. We remove our shoes. Connection? 3.2. Long after sale of Yosef, brothers come to Egypt to buy grain, Yosef recognizes them, after accusing them of theft, imprisons Shimon as hostage, commands to bring Binyomin. Then they can no longer contain self, cry out Aval asheimim anachnu But we are to blame. Once again the term Aval. 3.3. They were saying we are guilty of the sin of Aval but. Imagine rationalizations going through mind when selling brother. 1) Only selling him 2) Its his fault, antagonizing us 3) Maybe its better if starts new life elsewhere. It was the Aval that gave them the legitimacy to go through with actions. 3.4. That is why we recall their actions by removing shoes: remind us that it is this approach that lies behind our sins. I may have sinned BUT Our Aval anachnu chatanu echos the words of forefathers Aval ashemim anachnu 4. Example 1 Torah Study: 4.1. All know importance of broadening our intellectual horizons. Stimulating mind with Torah. Send kids to Jewish school because recognize the value. Also know how it will enrich our personal lives.


6. 7.


4.2. BUT Aval: 1) Ive got meetings all day, tired at night. 2) The rabbis talks are above my head (may say a few good jokes, but the rest is beyond me) 3) talks too fast/slow 4) always scheduled at wrong time (doesnt the Rabbi know that we have our squash game on Monday nights?..) 4.3. It is the Aval rationalizations, this psychological device which causes most of problems. Example 2 Family Time: 5.1. Most precious thing we have = family. But the But/Aval gets involved here too. 5.2. We hear The cats in the cradle and a silver spoon coming out of the car radio, and we think, Yeah, when are we coming home? 5.3. But then we say Aval: 1) I do provide them with their needs, make a good living 2) didnt we go on that holiday together to Mauritius (it doesnt matter that half the time we were checking the stocks on our BB) 3) I know we should create more Jewish environment in our home BUT why should I deprive my child from being exposed to all the latest mishugas dont want them to be left out, want them to be Well-adjusted. Example 3 spouse: 6.1. Know importance spend TIME with spouse BUT Aval = Roman 7.1. Share something fascinating. Mentioned earlier use of the word Aval by brothers. Rashi comments Aval = Lishna Dromaah hu roman latin word. 7.2. Simple explanation: Rashi troubled by use of word Aval linguistically not Hebrew. Explains that in fact word is of Latin origin. Lishna dromaah. 7.3. Perhaps something deeper: Rashi is teaching not only linguistics also providing moral/philosophical teaching. Use of term Aval justifications of wrong doing, rationalizations, is not Jewish concept it is Lishna dromah. 7.4. Aval Symbolizes all that is antithetical to Judaism. Ancient Rome represent society where power lust greed is the objective. Coupled with that loophole known as Aval. Finding justification for the most heinous acts. 7.5. Judaism = responsibility no room for such a word in the Hebrew vocabulary. Conclusion: 8.1. As we read these words multiple times during the course of the next day let us reflect on those Aval within our live and make firm resolution to acknowledge and ultimately remove this. 8.2. When we remove these words from our vocabulary we can be sure that G-D will respond in kind and bless us with a new year without and ifs or buts.