Teshuva 3: God’s Desire Part Two
This essay is dedicated by family and friends to Raizel Yocheved Sarah bas Rivka Malya, a true Mitzvah hero: May the Ultimate Healer grant her a speedy and complete healing: There is a famous Midrash brought down in the Shibolei Haleket. This Sefer is a well-known collection of Midrashim. Even Robert Merkin in his book On the Shoulders of Giants quotes the Shibolei Haleket. This Sefer cites a particular Midrash, which we do not know the source of. It says that each one of the blessings of Shmone Esrei was actually composed by the Angels in response to something that they had seen happen to the Jewish People, or to the Patriarchs. It explains that the blessing of Hashiveinu, where it says that God is the source of all blessing, the one Who desires Teshuva, refers to when Reuben repents for the sin of which we will read in this week’s Parsha. The blessing of S’lach Lanu, or Forgiveness, refers to story of Yehuda when he repented in next week’s parsha, which I will remind you of in a moment.
Which of the Berachot seems more preferable? “The one Who desires Teshuva,” or “God is gracious, abundant in His forgiving.” Which is the one you would prefer God to say of you? Would you rather have God be gracious, or would you rather have God saying, “Would you do me a favor? Please do Teshuva for me.” God wants it. He desires it. This is, by the way, one of the key phrases in davening. One of the most beautiful prayers in the Shmone Esrei on Yom Kippur we don’t say in this shul. It compares the prayers of the Angels to the prayers of human beings. It’s so incredible! I don’t why the English translates the word r’tzei as favor. It really means ‘desires.’