Just yesterday I messed up as a wife and really lost my cool with my husband. Just last week, I messed up as a mother and didn’t give my daughter the attention she needed and deserved.
Doesn’t it sometimes feel like life is full of mistakes? Guilt and more guilt. Falling and somehow pulling yourself back up. But could there be anything positive about that?
Our Sages teach us: “In the place that a repentant stands, a truly righteous individual is unable to reach.” This means that the level reached by a person who has messed up and repented is incomparably higher than the level of a completely righteous individual who didn’t sin in the first place.
Why? If sin is so terrible, why would a repentant be better off?
Though sin is never good, a person who has sinned and returned has gained an awareness of a deeper part of himself. He comes to realize how he really never wanted to stray but was merely tempted in the moment. His newfound introspection leads him to become more in tune with how important his connection is to G‑d. The relationship that he may have taken for granted before, has now becomes so cherished to him, as his very raison d’etre.
This week’s Torah portion speaks about the Sota, the suspected adulteress: her straying, the humiliation that she feels and ultimately her exoneration as she is reunited with her spouse—and their ensuing blessings.
On a deeper level, the whole episode is a metaphor for any time we stray in our personal relationships or with G‑d. Though mistakes are never positive, ultimately, a relationship that endures challenges and still thrives is stronger than one never exposed to difficulties. Similarly, one who repents and changes his ways realizes even more deeply--because of his mistake--just how much his relationship means.
Growth is not about persevering on one straight path, never messing up. It isn’t about “returning” to what we were, but rather growing to become a more enriched, more courageous human being driven by a fierce yearning for a stronger and more meaningful bond with G‑d.
Here’s a thought for this week: What mistake have you made that provided you with a new perception that ultimately caused you to change your direction? What have you learned from the experience?
Wishing you a wonderful week and that the mistakes that we all inevitably make should lead us to become greater human beings.