Stories of Tzadikim / 21 A thought of teshuva
Hold on to Shabbos with
Stories of Tzadikim
With Rav Yussie Zakutinsky
Gut Voch everybody. In the summer months, I can’t call it a minhag but very often what happens in camp late night motzei shabbos whatever it is they tell ghost stories and try to scare each other. Let me tell you a holy ghost story, the intention isn’t to scare anyone, hopefully we'll get some chizzuk.
The story goes like this, don’t ask me to explain it, this is the maaseh. The Kotzker Rebbe was once walking with one of his chassidim and as they were passing by a particular area there was a bunch of hoodlums, of goyim. They were standing there, they saw the Kotzker and his talmid and they began to throw rocks at them. Saying anti-semetic things. Immediately the chassid, see these rocks coming so he ducks down behind the bush. But the Rebbe just stands there and continues walking. The chossid turns up and says Rebbe you have to hide, they’re throwing rocks. The Rebbe says Meh, there’s no goyim, there’s no rocks. Let me tell you something, those guys over there they’re not from the living. They’ve already passed on. They don’t realize it yet. They think they’re part of the world, but they’re not really. I’ll prove it to you. Stand up, you’ll see that all these rocks coming your way they’re not going to hit you. They’re not real. When you go close to them you’ll see that they’re wearing clothes of the dead. They go closer and that’s what they're wearing.
The Chossid after this experience turns to the Kotzer with an amazing question and says Rebbe, how do I know that I’m alive? Maybe I’m also stuck thinking I’m alive but am not really. The Kotzker says if at any point in your life, you ever had a hirhur Teshuva, you ever had a real thought to becoming a better person that’s a siman that you’re alive.
But if a person goes through life without even a moment of thinking or wanting to become better, then it could be that they’re not alive. That’s the siman of life.
The siman of life doesn’t mean to be a tzaddik, or to be the person we want to become. But it’s the wanting to be that person. Having a thought of Teshuva of becoming better, that’s called being alive.
When Hashem says I’ve placed before you good and bad, life and death choose life He doesn’t say choose good he says choose life. Good is something that comes after you choose life. Life is to want to do good. Now that you’ve chosen life you’ll be good. You have to choose life, and that means to have thoughts of Teshuva and become better people. That itself is making us alive, it’s injecting us with life-force itself.
Hashem should help us, this week should be a week of Chayim, chayim amiti’im. True life, of growth, of Cheshek, desire, Hirhur Teshuva. We should be zoche that not just as individuals, all of klal yisroel should have that hirhur teshuva and choose that life and connect to life in a real way, in a pnimiyusdik way. With that be zocheh to the CHay Hachayim B’vias goel tzedek bimherah byamenu amen.