Emor: How to Wipe Away a Chillul Hashem

My six year old is learning about Lavan and how he tried to kill Eliezer when Eliezer came to find a wife for Yitzchok.

So, he had a question: Why did Lavan try to kill Eliezer?  Good question.  So I gave him an answer.  So, next question: Why did he poison him?  He could have taken a sword and stabbed him! (complete with stabbing motions)  So, I gave him an answer for that as well.  Then he asked why didn't he do this or that in order to kill him?  So, I turned to him and said, "You seem to really know a lot about killing people."

He just laughed.

The Rambam (Hilchos Tshuva 1: 4) writes that when a person makes a chillul Hashem, desecrates Hashem's name (usually in public), even if he does tshuva, and receives pain in this world, and goes through Yom Kippur, his tshuva is not complete until he dies.

Uplifting, no?

Rabbeinu Yona in Shaarei Tshuva (4: 16) writes, "even if the sin of chillul Hashem can only be forgiven through death, nonetheless Torah can also forgive it"

Not bad!  So, according to Rabbeinu Yona, if I have such a serious sin on my head, all I need to do is learn a little Torah and I'm spared all sorts of grief and agony. Ahhh! Life is good!

Rav Shimshon Pincus brings in further proof.  On other holidays like Pesach, Sukkos, and Yom Kippur, they would bring a Sin Offering in the Beis HaMikdash, yet on Shavous, there was none.  The Gemara (Yerushalimi Rosh Hashanah 4:8) explains that since the Jewish nation accepts upon themselves the yoke of Torah, Hashem lifts them up to a level as if they never sinned.

Wait a second…

If we look at this carefully, we see that our "easy out" is not such an easy out.  The Gemara said that we accept upon ourselves the yoke of Torah.  It's clear here that simply learning a Mishnah or two is not going to wipe away our sins.  Rather, one has to take upon himself the yoke of Torah, something far more serious and intense.

In fact, we see a similar thing in a Mishnah in Avos (6:1), "Whoever is heavily involved in learning Torah for the sake of Heaven, he will be uplifted above all other creations."  Simply put, that person is brought to a newer and higher level of existence.  But again, it doesn't come from a person simply learning Torah.  It comes from somebody learning for the sake of Heaven.  It comes from somebody who takes his learning and changes himself so much, that he's no longer the same person who did the sin originally!

So, how do we do that?  My never-to-be-humble suggestion is simple.  When I learn something, I will try to make it a point to take action on what I learned.  If I learn a new halacha, I will do my best to put it into practice.  How many times do we learn Torah and never really "learn" from it?  But taking our learning and putting it into practice, we are allowing the Torah to change us.

And spiritually speaking, we are in a time period where such things are more possible than other times.  On Pesach, a Grain Offering, is brought.  What was this offering?  Simple: it was freshly cut grain.  On Shavous, what is brought?  A Bread Offering.  Two loaves of bread.  We start off with food fit for an animal and then on Shavous, we finish off with food fit for man.  During this time of Sefiras HaOmer, we have an easier time taking our "animal spirit" and changing it to that of man.

Only through such a change, can we rely on the words of Rabbeinu Yona that Torah can protect us from even the most severe of sins.

Have a wonderful Shabbos!