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I’ve Sinned. Now What?

I’ve Sinned. Now What?


I have been “bad.” I have given into a habit I am trying to quit; a habit I’ve struggled to quit since I was a teenager. I base my self-worth largely on whether I give in to the urge or am strong enough to hold myself back.

Now, yesterday was Shabbat, and this habit happens to violate a halachah (Jewish law) of Shabbat. Yet I felt I could not stop myself. There I was: a so-called observant woman, with the hot tray, urn and lights left on, noI could not stop myself problem, but helpless in the face of my compulsive urge.

Aware I was breaking Shabbat—even as I continued to exercise this fanatical and futile habit—I was bombarded by thoughts like “It’s too late,” “It’s done,” “Why stop now?” The perfectionist in me is a big believer in all or nothing and felt despondent by the already tainted-ness of Shabbat. Hand in hand, my yetzer harah (evil inclination) was throwing out comments like “You’re so weak,” “Hypocrite!” “You’ll probably never overcome this habit,” “Something big will have to knock you into shape—one day,” “What’s the point of starting again now, as this Shabbat and week ahead have been ruined.”

The Lubavitcher Rebbe taught that the most powerful mocker is the one within yourself.

But for a split-second, the lights go on inside, and I see clearly the flawed nature of these thoughts and how I am captive to them as if they are truth. For I know, on a deeper level, we are all imperfect human beings making mistakes, and hopefully, getting back up and trying again—and again.

Suddenly, it’s obvious that the voice spurring me on to not try at all is actually what is evil, and not the act itself. There is always hope and possibility. Sure, some challenges are harder than others, for reasons that run deep. But we can change direction at any moment.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe shared: “Know thatWe can change direction at any moment what you did a moment ago is irrelevant. All that matters is what you will do right now. Any voice that holds you back from moving forward—no matter how justified it may sound—any such voice is a voice of destruction and decay, not of growth and life.”1

With this in mind, my aim is to really listen to these voices that I allow to rule and ruin me. When it is the loud voice of doom or gloom, or shame and blame, I clearly need to oust that voice from its position and replace it with the voice of truth, love, understanding, empathy and support. The voice that whispers to us that we are OK, that our neshamah (soul) is whole despite our imperfections, that we are always connected to G‑d, that we are always capable of choosing the high road and that we should do so right now.

Despite what took place even a second ago, now is when and where I have the power to script my life—and I can do it.

Tzvi Freeman, Bringing Heaven Down to Earth: Meditations on the Wisdom of the Rebbe, Book One (CreateSpace, 2011), p. 89.
Loren is a writer who is passionate about figuring out life and sharing the lessons she learns in a real and honest way. An avid magazine reader and writer, she also posts regularly on her blog in the hope that readers will be left feeling heard, less alone and inspired. Originally from South Africa, she now lives in Jerusalem with her husband and daughters.
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rena tzfat October 7, 2016

so true! this was me just a few days ago on Rosh Hashanah no less, there I was picking my nails again - a nasty habit in general, but especially big no-no on Shabbat and chag.
And I was so sure, I'd kicked the habit - at least on Shabbat. But I had become smug and self-assured, overly confident of my full repentance, and sure enough, the Yetzer hara came knocking at my door again full force.
I told myself that on the 2nd day of Rosh Hashanah I would be forgiven for my misdeeds on the first day.
But as you write so beautifully, one moment doesn't define us in the next. Reply

Carol New York October 6, 2016

Sin Thank you for this article. I've got many black marks on my life card. I'm sorry and wish I could go back in time and erase them, but unfortunately there isnt any way to do that. I've asked for forgiveness more times than I can count and fear my stupidity will follow me to my last days. I hope HE will forgive my mistakes and allow me to atone at home. I've been sick and am unable to not drink water which I've always done no matter what. I won't eat but I need to drink water. l' Shana Tova to my people out there and may you have healthy joyous years ahead Reply

Anonymous Woodmere October 6, 2016

Love! Thank you so much. My YH puts me down too although not so much with shabbat but many other things I can do better - I can totally relate! Reply

Anonymous Ohio October 5, 2016

Love This is me 100%. I stopped observing Shabbat 4 years ago when I found out I was pregnant and not married. I felt ashamed and have struggled to get back to being observant. I constantly fight with what my soul wants and the voice inside my head that tells me I'll never get back to where I once was, that if I can't observe Shabbat 100% why do it at all. I pray everyday for the strength and guidance to get back there and to learn how to silence the yetzer harah. Reply