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Confessions: Avinu

We have been perverse. We have sinned because of perverted reasoning. (Artscroll Vidui) “Cain said to God, ‘My sin – Avon – is greater than I can bear’.” (Genesis 4:13) He was also saying that his punishment was too great to bear. Both the sin and the punishment are included in Avon.

Four lepers are outside the city of Shomron, which is under siege by the armies of Aram. God terrified the attackers, and they ran, leaving their entire siege supplies behind. There was enough food to feed all the starving inhabitants of the city. The family of lepers was the first to discover the abandoned supplies and was grabbing all the food they could possibly eat. “Now one said to another, ‘we are not doing right. This is a day of good news, yet we are keeping quiet. If we wait until daybreak, we will incur guilt – Avon. Now, let us go and come and relate this in the king’s palace.’” (Kings II 7:9)

We will incur guilt – ‘we will be held guilty by the throne’. (Rashi) ‘If others report this before us, we will be held guilty by the king for our delay in reporting the good news.’ (Metzudat David) We will be held guilty for looting the camp. (Abarbanel) We will be guilty of the deaths of many starving people. (Malbim)

Sin causes the soul’s sickness through the bodily ailments that God sends upon the person for transgression – Avon – is the soul’s sickness. (The Gates of Repentance, Second Gate #3)

Avon is the direct result of the sin. Avon describes those things that make my soul sick, actions that cause spiritual damage. Avon is when the sin and its consequences are synonymous.

Avinu describes the damage we cause our souls and spiritual life.

Avinu describes taking something good and making it bad: talking during davening – prayers – or, acting inappropriately at the Shabbat table.

Avinu includes resenting something good that we are doing even as we are doing it. When we are looking at out watches as much as we look into our siddurim – prayer books – we are ruining a positive experience.

ToolsTikkun/Achieving Greatness

Treating the good that we do, our Mitzvot, prayers and Torah study with appreciation.

Avoid denigrating things or experiences that are good.

Honoring the good we see in others.

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