Monday, February 20, 2017

Stop Blaming Yourself

Rabbi Shalom Arush

Rebbe Nachman of Breslev warns us to be so careful with our speech that we don't even accidentally say something that's not completely true. And, if something mistakenly inaccurate is detrimental, imagine how terrible a blatant lie is!

Any utterance that's not 100% true is a lie. Any instance or manifestation of anger, arrogance, or flattery is also a lie. How? The angry person thinks that Hashem is not just – that's a lie. The arrogant person thinks that he's Hashem – that's a lie too. And flattery – calling something evil righteous – is a great big lie. 

Few if any people in modern society can pass the test of truth. Many people are so accustomed and conditioned to straying from the truth that they can no longer discern between what's really true and what's not. So much of social convention is a lie. One woman says to another, “Oh, it's so nice to see you, darling,” when she really can't stand her. Yes, you must be well-mannered and peace-loving, but we don't have to lie.

A holy mouth is a mouth that speaks the truth. If it can't speak the exact truth, then curbing the tongue is the preferred thing to do.

Rebbe Nachman says that truth brings satiation. With that in mind, a person suffering financial difficulties should assess and strengthen the degree of his adherence to the truth.

Rebbe Nachman also says that untruths damage one's eyesight. Maybe you're thinking, “How could that be? I know someone who lies all the time, but he has 20/20 vision!” Rebbe Nachman meant that a liar cannot see the truth. In the true ATFAT (a turn for a turn) fashion, since he distorts the truth, he himself sees a distorted image.

There's one lie that is bigger than all other lies: blaming yourself for something. Have you forgotten that Hashem runs the world, that He alone did, does, and will do every action? The number one reason that people are depressed is because they think that they could have avoided a situation. The familiar tune is, “Why did I make the dumb mistake?” Or, “I've studied the Chofetz Chaim fifteen times, how did I open my big mouth and speak slander about someone.”

Stop persecuting yourself. Whatever happened was not your fault. Hashem engineered your mistake, so blaming yourself for anything is a gross distortion of the truth.


Whatever you're blaming yourself for, it's not your fault! You think you're stronger than Hashem or that He couldn't prevent what happened? That's heresy! What happened is exactly what Hashem wanted to happen.

Yes, Hashem wanted you to do that sin. Sounds crazy? It's the first of the Rambam's 13 Principles of faith, that everything comes from Hashem.

So why does Hashem allow us to sin?

Hashem wants us to be humble. If we never sinned, our noses would be high in the air.

Hashem wants us to live our lives in teshuva. If we never sinned, we'd never make teshuva and we'd most likely never grow spiritually.

Hashem wants us to seek His help. The Gemara in tractate Succa says that unless Hashem helps us, we cannot possibly overcome the Evil Inclination. Hashem lets us sin when we haven't sought His help to show us how vulnerable we are.

There's another important reason why Hashem lets a person sin, when that person lacked the desire to do Hashem's will. There are so many stories of how Hashem protected the great tzaddikim from sin, because they prayed day and night begging Hashem to guard them from sin. That's measure-for-measure justice.

The Yetzer Hara – the evil inclination - is a gift from Hashem, because with the challenges he presents us with, we'd never grow.

So instead of blaming ourselves and tormenting ourselves, we should exit the self-destruct mode and simply do something positive: Make teshuva with a smile! Hashem knows that we're both human and fallible. All He wants us to do is to desire to do better and to seek His help. It's so simple.

The insistence on blaming oneself is doubly problematic – it's both a sign of arrogance and it's not the truth. Blaming oneself is a statement, “I'm too great to fall like this!” What a lie! A person is nothing without Hashem's help.

Mistakes are spiritual light to awaken us from spiritual slumber and not for the purpose of initiating a process of self persecution. It's almost Adar and Purim week – start being happy and stop blaming yourself. Your life will make a wonderful turn for the very best, amen!