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I Don't Mind Sin

I Don't Mind Sin

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Question:

I was observant as a child, keeping Shabbat and kosher. But then once, when I was a teenager, a neighbor offered me a meat sandwich. It wasn’t kosher, and I knew it. But I was hungry. In a weak moment, I ate the sandwich. And then . . . nothing happened. I was not struck down by lightning, I didn’t get sick or collapse, the sky didn’t fall. I realized that these laws actually mean nothing. So I stopped keeping Shabbat, and then it was a matter of time before I dropped religion entirely. There’s a part of me that would like to be observant again, but doesn’t my experience prove that the mitzvahs are irrelevant?

Answer:

On the contrary, your experience proves just how detrimental sin can be. The consequence for breaking the Torah’s rules is not the sky falling, or being struck down by lightning. The consequence of sin is indifference. When you do bad and feel nothing, that is the greatest punishment there can be.

What happened to you is exactly what the Talmud says: “One sin leads to another.” When you do something wrong, a layer of ice forms over your soul. You become less spiritually sensitive, less in touch with G‑d, cold and apathetic. The feeling of indifference makes the next transgression easier, leading to a vicious cycle of spiritual degeneration and disconnection.

This is the deeper meaning of the biblical death penalty for sins. The death is an internal one—your soul loses its life-force, your spirit is cut off, your heart goes stone cold. When you eat non-kosher or break Shabbat, something changes inside you. The fact you feel nothing is a reflection of how deep the damage is. Your soul is numb.

But your soul can always be revived. For the Talmud teaches that just as one sin leads to another, so one mitzvah leads to another. If one sin can freeze your spirit, one good deed can bring your soul back to life, melting the ice of indifference and allowing you to feel again. The first step is hard, but the next one is easier.

You have proven the numbing power of breaking the Torah’s rules. Now prove the reviving power of keeping them, and do just one mitzvah.


Sources
Pirkei Avot 4:2; Likkutei Torah, Devarim (Shabbat Teshuvah) 64d.
Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
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Rochel Chein October 2, 2016

To Chaia G-d created each of us and He knows us, knows our strengths and our challenges. He isn't looking for perfection, but rather, a relationship with us, His beloved children, built one good deed at a time. Reach out to Him, and He welcomes us with open arms. May we all be blessed with a good and sweet year! Reply

Chaia NY September 19, 2016

Sin I'm Jewish. I don't keep a kosher home. I've broken commandments. There are 600 some odd commandments that we obviously cannot keep in these days. I'm proud of who i am but I am very far from perfect. I believe in G_D. I'm a good person and yes I have sinned but hopefully He will forgive me. Can't go back and fix it and as a human I have foibles but I know He knows what's in my heart. We can never be perfect even if we try. Reply

Shoshana Jerusalem September 19, 2016

Eli - Ohio- March 6, 2016 If a tzadik needs to come down again in another gigul (reincarnation) he will come down as another person, in order to rectify (tikun) a problem in his previous life. Sometimes, for instance, a tzadik ate non=kosher food for the first few years of his life until his parents became religious. So he will be reborn into a kosher -keeping child, who will die at the age of three. The Baal Shem Tov, who knew who each neshama was, used to tell grief- striken parents that their child was a great neshama, fulfilled his purpose in this world and is now in Gan Eden. Sometimes a baby dies soon after birth. He could possible a gigul of someone who had to come into this world just to be born again to a mother who kept laws of Family Purity and that is his tikun. Today, according to the Ari Z'al, we are all gigulim and there are no new neshamas. This will probably be our last chance. We shouldn't muff it.

Shana Tova. Reply

Dovi Brooklyn September 17, 2016

There are consequences... Just not yet. The rabbi didn't mention the suffering a person has to go through for his crimes either much later, in the next world, or in the next life. A person doesn't see the fruits of his sins immediately because that would destroy the free will system. Reply

Anonymous May 14, 2017
in response to Dovi:

In Olam Hazeh (this world) we do things that we regret, and we might end up getting punished in Olam Habah (the world to come). If that is the way Hashem wants it, so be it. Reply

Chaia NY August 25, 2016

I dont mind sin I have sinned. I was young or stupid but I did it. I ask for forgiveness daily and hope he will excuse the mistakes I made. Humans are not perfect and no matter who you are you will sin. You will do something that's considered wrong. I truly believe if yo are good at heart G-D will forgive you. We arent perfect so let's get real and understand only He is perfect. Reply

Eli Ohio March 6, 2016

I know this isn't what the post was talking about I'll add it.

When people go up to Heaven, they are judged. We are reincarnated to rectify a wrong we did in a past life, either Gehnna, or go back down.

There are four levels. Inanimate, Plant, Animal, and Person. The Person is the hardest to rectify, the rectification is active whilst the others are passive.

Rashaim (evil people) are reborn as non-kosher food, they themselves were indifferent to sin, so to after eating from non-kosher food you integrate their spark with your own soul. This damages the soul greatly.

Holy people are reborn as Kosher food, eating Kosher food heals the damage of the soul. You not only, do you sanctify your mouth, you are also redeeming the fallen sparks.

Tzadikim are reborn as daggim (fish) it's a really holy tikkun to eat fish on Shabbos, this saves one from the fires of Gehenna. You integrate the holy soul of a Tzadik into your own soul. Tzadikim swim in the Torah which is akin to water. Reply

Shoshana Jerusalem January 13, 2015

why sin is wrong When we sin we go against the will of our Creator, the King of Kings, who loves us and gives us everything we have : life, family, friends, livelihood, ears, eyes, the sky, the ocean. And in His Torah, told us what to do and what not to do. We should love Him so much that we won't want to sin against Him, just like a loving son should want to obey his father. If we do sin, we automatically are making our souls impure and this is bad for us in many ways though we might not be tuned in enough to feel this. Sin also causes us to be further away from G-d, our Father and Creator, putting like an iron wall between us. Another consequence of sinning is that there is punishment, sometimes in this world, always in the next, because our souls must become pure again, and the purification process is painful. Mitzvot, on the other hand, fill us and the world with light and we become more beloved to G-d and closer to Him, and this is why we were created. Reply

Anonymous Jerusalem January 9, 2015

Aaron Moss failed to explain what the consequences of sinning are, other than explaining why one sin leads to another. Other than that, not a single explanation as to why it is wrong to begin with. I could make claim that doing mitzvot makes it easier to perform more mitzvot but without explaining why it is good then whats the point?

If there are no consequences there are no consequences! Reply

Anonymous May 14, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

We get consequences in the world to come, so if we sin and one sin leads to another, we will get major punishment in the world to come. Reply

Anonymous Jerusalem May 14, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

So basically sinning is bad because of the formula Sin=>Boiling in Satan's cauldron. Fair enough. Reply

Anonymous Portsmouth October 29, 2014

To anonymous in Hollywood A Jew I know of once said, that all scripture is breathed by G-d , and is useful for instruction, reproof, and so on.

if you want wisdom, ASK G-d, fully expecting Him to give it, for he gives to all without limit.

So if you want to understand what you read (including his rules), ask Him to close your eyes to what he wants you not to see, open them to what he wants you to see, and then trust him to do it.

To Yehudit: love is not a feeling; it is a choice. the same is true for your soul. if your soul feels dead, keep on. But do ask G-d for help. Reply

Yehudit US October 13, 2014

Thank u for ur article, sometimes my soul feels dead and im doing mitzvot, cud it be that for some people who have the logic but not the feeling that its a test to make ourself re enthusiastic? Reply

Anonymous September 22, 2017
in response to Yehudit:

Listen to good kosher songs. the melody and harmony connects directly to your soul. Reply

ROBERT FLEISHER New Jersey June 17, 2014

It's so faulty to think that you commit a sin and don't receive immediate punishment and that means all is okay. If God set the world up for immediate retribution, how hard would it be to find believers? Not very. To have true believers of faith, you can't have the entire puzzle already laid out. By the way, who says that something in that meat sandwich won't have some terrible effect thirty years later? Remember, viruses can have 40 year incubation periods. God works in mysterious ways. Reply

Anonymous Hollywood June 16, 2014

To Anonymous in P-Town I am more observant now and study more Torah than I ever have in my life.

The thing is, although I am drawn to the teachings and rituals of Judaism, I find it hard to put it on a sound rational basis.

I don't think you really can. I've heard over and over the idea that since Torah is written by G-d, it makes sense that we can't understand much of it. But then why try to understand any of it? It seems like we try to use rationality as a tool to make people follow irrational mitzvahs. Like when teaching people not to lie, gossip, steal, or observe Shabbat (as you told me), we say "Doesn't it make sense to do it?" But when teaching people to put on tefillin, we can only say "because G-d said so". So because some of it makes sense, you should follow the rest. Would we believe in Torah if none of it made sense to us? If it said murder was good? Reply

LD NY June 15, 2014

This was a good, coherent, and meaningful answer.
But to understand the answer, the questioner must first understand how much he has actually lost by throwing everything away just because he wasn't immediately "struck by lightning" when he ate something non-kosher. He must first understand the superficiality of the rationalizations he initially used to justify those actions. Reply

Dena Jerusalem June 15, 2014

to David Levant I'm not sure I understood your post. Helping the poor on Shabbos can be giving him food, and that does not require work. If you are talking about saving a person's life by taking him to the hospital on Shabbos, for instance, so this is what you are required to do. Reply

Ann Canada June 14, 2014

This is such a wonderful and wise reply--and not cliché, either. I also ate treif, knowingly and willingly, and it hurt me. But HaShem showed me something important in my sin: that I must never grow self-righteous and assume I am safe from sinning, and that He is always there to reach up to and to find comfort with and guidance in His Torah. Reply

Anonymous P-town, Va June 13, 2014

To David Levant David, this is rest, to let the weary rest. Isaiah 28. Surely you are a doctor, or a similar profession, and -- who is more weary than the lame, the sick?

So yes, you are right, that sometimes one's labor can be a greater fulfillment of the shabbat. Yet even that should not be taken lightly, but with great consideration, for G-d also made you, and intends rest for you, as well.

But you do well if, in seeing the greater need of another, you set aside your shabbat for the shabbat of the other, as an act of greater fulfillment. It is an act of love, for Hashem, for the neighbor, and where there is love there is no condemnation.

Yet what I was saying to anonymous in Hollywood was more along the lines of how to find his way back. And part of it is to recognize and declare the harm he has done, and part of it is to ask for forgiveness, and part of it is to put his hand with G-d's on the plow, turned the right way. Part of it is to rejoin the others. Reply

Moshe Zvi via skokiechabad.org June 13, 2014

Many years ago I read the book"Rejoice O Youth" by rabbi Avigdor Miller.

I found that the book answered many of the same questions. Reply

David Levant Emerson,NJ June 13, 2014

Breaking The Sabbath Day Helping the poor is everyday. Giving alms cannot be exclusive to the weekdays. Sometimes one must "work" on Shabbat for who knows, you may save someones life, or soul. Reply

Anonymous P-town, Va June 13, 2014

To Anonymous in Hollywood To answer your question, understand this: that Shabbat is G-d's gift to the poor. No matter how their lives may have been destroyed, no matter how badly enslaved they are, a day of rest , a day of being able to rejoice in G-d's creation, is absolutely necessary to life; and when you take that away, you slay a man's soul.

Once, you used to say, 'as long as I don't hurt anyone, what harm is it?' But today you hurt a needy man who never did you wrong, indeed who had done you good, to the very edge of his existance. You stole from his children.

In line with that, I turn you back and remind you, that alms cover many sins. Stop breaking the holy day, and start to give alms to the poor. Make it as dignified to them as possible, and your own face and name forgotten in the act. And then, go and talk with your religious leader of all you had done, and ask G-d to forgive you. Reply

Lauren Goldman San Francisco, California June 13, 2014

Is there wiggle room? Not for me. I live in an SRO (single room occupancy) hotel in San Francisco, and a couple of my neighbors are Jewish by birth, but not at all religious. One evening a week ago, I was making tea and my neighbor Jonathan noticed that I didn't add my usual non-dairy creamer, and asked why. Since I had had chicken for dinner, a couple of hours before, I told him that the creamer, though it is labeled non-dairy, has an ingredient that is derived from milk. When he asked me if that wasn't extreme, I explained that since it was derived from milk, it is milchig, and no, it isn't extreme; G-d, through Torah, has instructed us on this subject. Jonathan was implying that the little bit of chemical wouldn't matter, so I said that if I were to use that creamer, why not just have a ham sandwich? Either a mitzvah is kept, or it is not. Reply

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