Shabat Shuva – You can Change

The Shabat which falls in between Rosh Hashana and the Fast of Yom Kippur is one of the most emotional times of year. It lies at the beginning of the new year when we contemplate what has gone on over the past year and decide how to improve our selves over the course of the coming year. We read the most befitting Haftarah for this season. It is from the end of the book of Hoshea. It starts with the statement for the Jewish people to return to G-d.

Hoshea’s call to return to the Holy ways of the Torah is very different from other Prophets. The other prophets tell the Jewish people how they have “fallen into Sin” – “Nafal” – . Hoshea tells them that they have simply “stumbled” – “Kashalta Beavonech.” The other prophets said that they have fallen so hard that they can not get up. Hoshea views sin as a mistake which can easily be fixed.

Hoshea describes the process of returning to G-d as being very easy. You do not need to make large donations to any institution or go through starvation (one day of Fasting will do) or beatings. All you need to do is to “bring words with you.” Instead of bringing a large bovine sacrifice we should “pay with the heifer of our lips.”

In order to return to G-d all you need is to recognize that you sinned, decide to change and admit your error.

Throughout the book of Hoshea many sins are mentioned including sins of oppressing others, theft, murder and all popular activities. When the call to return to G-d is made only two things are mentioned.

The Jewish people should not rely for their existence on foreign powers and should not worship their creations.

During this prophecy Hoshea quotes G-d that when we change our ways in this way then G-d will be like pleasant morning dew and we will flourish like a Lily Flower. Roots will be entrenched like those of Levanon forests. They will be as beautiful as an Olive tree and the fragrance will be like the Forest air.

The poetic description of the goodness which is waiting for those who return from their sins continues further.

Hoshea finishes off by saying “Who is smart and will understand this? Insightful and will know? That the ways of G-d are straight and the righteous will go with them while the spiteful will fail in them.

I have seen people find fault with beautiful Mitzvot. Their attitude in general is what stands in their way. The righteous ways of Torah are a blessing to those who follow them.