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2019 Nirzavim 

09/28/2019 04:23:13 PM


Rabbi Glick: Doing Teshuvah Together with God

A day before Rosh Hashannah…

We know what our work is:




As Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach sang, return again, return to the land of your soul, return to who you are to what you are to where you are born and reborn again.

As our parashah says:

When you take it all to heart and you return to the Lord your God and you and children heed his command with all your heart and soul, then the Lord your God will return to you.

Even if your outcasts are at the end of the world, from there the LORD your God will gather you, from there He will fetch you.

There is this beautiful story in the Talmud about the high priest Yishmael, one of the last high priests before the destruction of the Temple. It is in the waning days of the kingdom of Judah. Soon the Jews will be on the road for 2000 years.

On Yom Kippur, as on every Yom Kippur, the high priest Yishmael readies to enter the Holy of Holies. The innermost chamber of the Temple, where only he would go.

Once a year, on the holiest day of the year. The holiest space in the world

He, who is supposed to be the holiest person. With trepidation; you never knew what was going to happen when you entered.

HE enters the Holy of Holies.

There he sees, the Lord, The Lord of Hosts. Sitting on the highest throne.

The throne of Compassion

What does the Lord say to him:

He says bless me, my son.

What an incredible idea, that we should bless God.

So Yishmael said to him: Master of the Universe. May it be Your will that Your mercy conquer Your anger, that You behave toward your children with the attribute of mercy. And that for their sake, You go beyond the boundary of judgement.

Our Portion says if WE Practice Teshuvah, then God will Do Teshuvah for Us

What an idea –

That God needs to do Teshuvah.

That God needs us to bless him.

This is what Yishmael sees in the Talmud.

God asking him for blessing. Because yes we have this idea of God in the heavens as Judge on the Holidays inscribing in the book of life and death.

We also ask of God to return. To return, to see all of the suffering in the world, and to do what he can to have compassion upon it all. 

To bring mercy and kindness into this world.

To see how His creations are having trouble.

To remember the partnership.

We will do our part O God, but we also need You to please do Yours. Even as imperfect as we are.

This is how this very world appears to us.

The Talmud asks why do we bless a food item before we eat. What does it do?

It gives us permission to eat it. Before it is God’s. No one can partake of it.

But when we say a blessing, we enter into the partnership.  We allow ourselves and are permitted to eat of it.

This is what we’re doing down here.

Trying to Bless this World

We’re all standing here, living our lives, loving, hurting, dancing, crying, singing.

We’re doing all of it as partners to bless this world.

We are trying to bring all of it back into the garden; isn’t that why we left the garden?

To come into this world to LIFT it back UP TO HEAVEN?

We know we live in a world of duality, hot and cold, good and bad. WE forget our Divine purpose.

We also remember at times. This may be the nature of the world.

But part of our right as beings made in the image of God.

We want to ask on behalf of all of it, that this world of duality also be given some compassion. That love overpowers hate, as joy does for sadness.

We want to go back to the garden, but only by taking all of THE WORLD with us.

The story of the Vorki rebbi—when he passed away, his son grew worried.  It had been weeks and he had not heard from his father in a dream or vision. He went to see his father's friend Menachem Mendel of Kotzk and asked him, have you heard from my father?

He said I have not heard from him either. It is time for me to go to him. Menachem Mendel went into deep davening and meditation and he went up from heaven to heaven asking have you seen my friend Yitzhak of Vorki?

The souls there said we did but he went higher. It was the same answer among the Angels and in the heavenly Jerusalem. He went higher. Until Menachem Mendel arrived at a large forest. He crossed the forest. Finally he saw water, the banks of an ocean. There was his friend Yitzhak of Vorki.

As he approached the ocean he felt a great sadness overtake him. He asked his friend Yitzhak what is this place? His friend said this is the ocean of the tears of the children of Israel. I told the master of the world, I would not leave here until he dries it all up.

We do not want to be redeemed without everybody else with us.


This is in our path.


To look heavenward and say.


We ask you to see the suffering, even if one day for you is a thousand years for us.

To look far below at what is happening here.

As Yishmael said to him: Master of the Universe. May it be Your will that Your mercy conquer Your anger. That You behave toward your children with the attribute of mercy. And that for their sake, You go beyond the boundary of judgement.

And the Talmud says in response to this blessing, God nods to Rebbi Yishmael in approval.


Because on some level, God also wants this prayer from us.

We are partners. We should remind him.

Say: It is our prayers that help bring You into the world.


This is part of why we pray. Our blessing brings your Presence here.


From the far away heavens, on this difficult world. We refuse to budge until you see what is happening here.


We will return to you and we also need You to return to us.


Together we will change the world.


Shabbat shalom

Thu, May 19 2022 18 Iyyar 5782