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12 Elul - holding God accountable

Levi Yitzchak of Rosakov (1740–1809), best known as Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev, one of the most famous disciples of the Maggid of Mezerich, summoned a simple tailor and asked the man about a discussion he was having with God. The tailor said, "I have declared to God, 'You want me to repent and apologize for everything I have done wrong. But I've only made small, meaningless mistakes. I have some dust left over from clothes I made, I have occasionally not eaten strictly kosher, or skipped the birkat hamazon/blessing after the meal some time. But you, Eternal our God, have committed great sins. You have taken babies away from their mothers, and mothers from their children. There are wars going on, that we don’t want, there are lots of misconducts, leaders that don’t care about their citizens, only about power. People that like themselves more than anyone else, people that rob, that rape, that kill. There is a serious problem with the climate. At the very least, let's say it's the same between You and me. May You forgive me, than I will forgive You." The Rebbe listened very carefully. Then he stood up: he was furious with the tailor. "Why did you make it so easy for God? You could have forced The Eternal to redeem the whole world."

What do you want from us God?, Please can we ask you as well, what we would like You to do in the world? Please teach us how to get the best out of myself, to try to change the world. But we do have a relationship with each other, You and me, and us. The covenant that You made with us and we with You, from the time of the patriarchs to Sinai and to this very day, is a mutual agreement. If You ask us to repent, can we ask you to help out in this world, where a lot is not right. We are called to account every year with the Yamim Noraim, for our actions, but shouldn't we also hold You accountable for everything that is not yet good in the world? How can we bring a change in this world for the benefit if everyone, and You.

I wish us and the Eternal with us, inspiring and innovative days, so that we can hopefully achieve an olam chadash, a new, safe, healthy and transparent world, together.


Rabbi Menno ten Brink, LBC 1993. Amsterdam

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