Teshuvah: What About the Holes?

There is a famous story about a precious Jew who had a rebellious child who was behaving badly. His father tried to chastise and rebuke him, but to no avail. For lack of a better option, the father searched for other ways to convince his son to give up his evil ways.

He thought about it and came up with an idea: from now on, the father would hammer a nail into the wall of a room each time his son sinned. And so he did. Each time his son sinned, the father hammered a nail into the wall and hung a note there listing the sin and the date on which it was done. The son entered the room a few days into this program and saw the walls covered with nails.

The son burst into tears and asked his father what could be done to remove the nails. The father responded: “From now on, for each day which passes sin-free, I will remove one nail from the wall.” The son decided to become a ba’al teshuvah. After an extended period, during which he sustained his repentance, he returned to the room, and found the walls nail-free. The father had pulled one out each day. However, the son still burst into tears.

In response to his father’s question as to why he did so, the son replied, “Yes, all the nails have been removed and the walls have been cleared, but the holes are still there.

Teshuvah is a supernatural force. If a person (God forbid) sins against God, he has desecrated God’s name in the world. This shows awful contempt for our Father in heaven. What if afterwards, he comes and asks God for forgiveness? Not only does God forgive him, He also erases the sin so it is as if it never existed at all. All the “holes” in the wall disappear. This accords with the message God sent through Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah) the prophet: “Return, straying children; I will cure you of your backsliding.”

Rabbi Yosef Churba is the founder of Sephardic.Org as well as Rosh Yeshiva of Magen Avraham Yeshiva in Brooklyn NY. It is with his guidance that this amazing website remains on the correct path in order to inspire Jewish people around the world.

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