Parashat Re'eh

Resolution Through Repentance

Parashat Re'eh, along with the month of Elul, remind us that repentance and rapprochement are always the ideal path.

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Sometimes war is necessary. Judaism teaches that while the most precious value is life, we are not pacifists. Destroying evil and wiping out a community of evil that is involved with idolatry is also part of justice. The key to any battle or war is to act with mercy. But even when we must take these difficult steps to uphold our values, we do so in a specific way. The Torah states: "When approaching a town to attack it, first offer them peace"(20:10). The opportunity for teshuvah (repentance) and rapprochement is there until the very end. We are commanded to resolve dangerous disputes, because if we leave evil alone, it will eventually attack us (Rashi, 20:12). But peaceful resolution is always preferred.

As we enter the month of Elul, we each fight our own internal struggles against our flaws and shortcomings. But even when this battle seems difficult or hopeless, we should remember that God always accepts teshuvah. With this encouragement, hopefully we will all gain the needed strength to do "what is good and right in the sight of the Lord."

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Danya Liberman Hayden is a Jewish Federation professional.