By Five Towns Marriage Initiative
In this week’s parashah, the pasuk says, “Ki ha’mitzvah ha’zos asher anochi metzavecha ha’yom lo nifleis hi mim’cha v’lo rechokah hi”—“For this commandment that I have commanded you today, it is not hidden from you and not distant” (Devarim 30:11). The Ramban explains that this mitzvah is referring to the mitzvah of teshuvah, and that teshuvah, repentance, is something that is within the grasp of each and every one of us.
This Shabbos is the last Shabbos of this year. Rosh Hashanah is around the corner, and in just a short while we will be standing in judgment in front of our Creator. Before we get there, we want to reach the point of achieving complete repentance and coming back wholeheartedly to Him.
Rebbetzin Finkel, the wife of the late Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, explained that teshuvah is unique amongst all the commandments. If a person builds a sukkah but does not do it according to the exact laws, it is not fit to be a sukkah and a person does not get rewarded for sitting in such a dwelling. Similarly, the commandment of putting on tefillin each day also needs to be done in a specific manner to qualify. When it comes to repentance, though, even if not done to its fullest and in its complete form, a person will still be rewarded for the repentance that he does and for the good intentions he has.
When it comes to marriage, as in most interpersonal matters, it’s not all or nothing. Be aware that when you put in effort and show that you are trying, success is not a distant matter. Rather, it too is within your grasp. And unlike the commandments of tefillin and sukkah, which are governed by very specific laws, success in a marital relationship is more comparable to repentance, where good intentions can go very far, and even a little bit of effort can show how much you care.
We should all merit coming to a complete repentance during these concluding days of Elul, while improving our marriages in the process. v
Five Towns Marriage Initiative provides educational programs, workshops, and referrals to top marriage therapists. FTMI will help offset counseling costs when necessary and also runs an anonymous shalom bayis hotline for the entire community Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings, 10:00–11:00 p.m. For the hotline or for more information, call 516-430-5280 or e‑mail firstname.lastname@example.org.