For A Change

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Written by:
Rabbi Tsvi Josephs
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לימוד ועבודה פנימית

תלמוד בבלי, ראש השנה טז

And Rabbi Yitzḥak said: A person’s sentence is torn up on account of four types of actions. These are: Giving charity, crying out in prayer, a change of one’s name, and a change of one’s deeds for the better. A source can be found for all of them: Giving charity, as it is written: “And charity delivers from death” (Proverbs 10:2); crying out in prayer, as it is written: “Then they cry to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses” (Psalms 107:28); a change of one’s name, as it is written: “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be” (Genesis 17:15), and it is written there: “And I will bless her, and I will also give you a son from her” (Genesis 17:16); a change of one’s deeds for the better, as it is written: “And God saw their deeds” (Jonah 3:10), and it is written there: “And God repented of the evil, which He had said He would do to them, and He did not do it” (Jonah 3:10).


And some say: Also, a change of one’s place of residence cancels an evil judgment, as it is written: “And the Lord said to Abram: Go you out of your county” (Genesis 12:1), and afterward it is written: “And I will make of you a great nation” (Genesis 12: 2). The Gemara explains: And the other one, i.e., Rabbi Yitzḥak, who does not include a change of residence in his list, holds that in the case of Abram, it was the merit and sanctity of Eretz Yisrael that helped him become the father of a great nation.

(Rosh HaShana 17b)

Among the paths of tshuvah is for the one doing it to: 1) constantly call out before God, crying and pleading; 2) to perform charity according to their potential; 3) to separate themselves far from the object of their sin; 4) to change his name, as if to say "I am a different person and not the same one who sinned;" 5) to change their behavior in its entirety to the good and the path of righteousness; and f) to travel in exile from their home. Exile atones for sin because it causes a person to be submissive, humble, and meek of spirit.

(Rambam, Hilchot Tshuvah, Chapter 2:4)

וְאָמַר רַבִּי יִצְחָק: אַרְבָּעָה דְּבָרִים מְקָרְעִין גְּזַר דִּינוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם, אֵלּוּ הֵן: צְדָקָה, צְעָקָה, שִׁינּוּי הַשֵּׁם, וְשִׁינּוּי מַעֲשֶׂה. צְדָקָה, דִּכְתִיב: ״וּצְדָקָה תַּצִּיל מִמָּוֶת״. צְעָקָה, דִּכְתִיב: ״וַיִּצְעֲקוּ אֶל ה׳ בַּצַּר לָהֶם וּמִמְּצוּקוֹתֵיהֶם יוֹצִיאֵם״. שִׁינּוּי הַשֵּׁם, דִּכְתִיב: ״שָׂרַי אִשְׁתְּךָ לֹא תִקְרָא אֶת שְׁמָהּ שָׂרָי כִּי שָׂרָה שְׁמָהּ״, וּכְתִיב: ״וּבֵרַכְתִּי אוֹתָהּ וְגַם נָתַתִּי מִמֶּנָּה לְךָ בֵּן״. שִׁינּוּי מַעֲשֶׂה, דִּכְתִיב: ״וַיַּרְא הָאֱלֹקים אֶת מַעֲשֵׂיהֶם״, וּכְתִיב: ״וַיִּנָּחֶם הָאֱלֹקים עַל הָרָעָה אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר לַעֲשׂוֹת לָהֶם וְלֹא עָשָׂה״.

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים: אַף שִׁינּוּי מָקוֹם, דִּכְתִיב: ״וַיֹּאמֶר ה׳ אֶל אַבְרָם לֶךְ לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ״, וַהֲדַר: ״וְאֶעֶשְׂךָ לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל״. וְאִידַּךְ: הָהוּא זְכוּתָא דְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל הוּא דְּאַהַנְיָא לֵיהּ

רמב״ם, משנה תורה, הלכות תשובה ב:ד

מִדַּרְכֵי הַתְּשׁוּבָה לִהְיוֹת הַשָּׁב צוֹעֵק תָּמִיד לִפְנֵי הַשֵּׁם בִּבְכִי וּבְתַחֲנוּנִים וְעוֹשֶׂה צְדָקָה כְּפִי כֹּחוֹ וּמִתְרַחֵק הַרְבֵּה מִן הַדָּבָר שֶׁחָטָא בּוֹ וּמְשַׁנֶּה שְׁמוֹ כְּלוֹמַר אֲנִי אַחֵר וְאֵינִי אוֹתוֹ הָאִישׁ שֶׁעָשָׂה אוֹתָן הַמַּעֲשִׂים וּמְשַׁנֶּה מַעֲשָׂיו כֻּלָּן לְטוֹבָה וּלְדֶרֶךְ יְשָׁרָה וְגוֹלֶה מִמְּקוֹמוֹ. שֶׁגָּלוּת מְכַפֶּרֶת עָוֹן מִפְּנֵי שֶׁגּוֹרֶמֶת לוֹ לְהִכָּנַע וְלִהְיוֹת עָנָו וּשְׁפַל רוּחַ:

  • Mah Bo?  
  1. What’s something you notice?  A word or phrase that sticks out to you?


  • Mah B’Eztem Bo? 
  1. Which of the things that can tear up the decree makes sense to you?  Which is surprising?  
  2. Which makes sense?  Which seems strange? Something that you don’t understand?


  • Mah Li Bo? / Hiluch
  1. Imagine a new name, new job, new place for yourself (only limitation is you’re the same age)
  2. Partner up and share your new identity with your chavruta
  3. The chavruta that listened asks three questions, fact based more or less about the person’s life
  4. Switch roles
  5. Come back as a chavruta and reflect on how the activity felt.  Ain sofiut of the neshama…
  6. Who wants to stay in their new life?  Stay in their old/current?

ברכה אחרונה

One word you’re taking with you to describe our learning

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