It was Shabbat Shuva, the day after Rosh Hashana, and we didn’t have a minyan. To the best of my recollection, St. Louis and the NY Mets were tied for first place and had to play a game to decide who would be in the pennant. The game wasn’t scheduled to begin until much later, but no one wanted to miss the pre-game show.
The tenth man appeared just as we were ready to say “Borchu,” and we continued as always. Someone came over to me during the Torah reading and said, “Rabbi! About today’s sermon..” I knew exactly what he was going to say (at least, I thought I knew); he wanted me to skip the sermon so he could rush home to watch the show.
I was wrong.
“I only came to hear you speak. I also know that you are upset about the situation, but please remember, we who are here, came. Don’t use your sermon to yell at us!”
How did he know? He was right, so I gave a (very short) speech about properly directing anger.
The attendance at one of my weekly shiurim had been dropping and I openly expressed my disappointment. By the time I arrived home, I had numerous emails from the people who were there apologizing for the poor showing. Why were they apologizing? They were there!
Had Caleb and Joshua taken that approach, they would have felt guilty about the other spies. Did they feel at all responsible for not somehow preempting the situation?
“We shall surely ascend!”(Numbers 13:30) “Even were Moshe to command us to build ladders to heaven, we could do it!” (Rashi) Those are not the words of someone who feels guilty. Rather than guilt, Caleb focused on possibilities and potential.
No wonder the blessings of Teshuva and forgiveness are immediately followed by a request for Redemption. There is no place for guilt, only for ladder building; rising to greater heights!
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