24 Av 5781 / Monday, August 02, 2021 | Torah Reading: Re'eh
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Saved by an Aleph    

Saved by an Aleph

Night clubs, celebrities, sports stars and models - David was living a rock-star life. He worked at one the hottest bars in Scottsdale. Teshuva? What's that?


Night clubs, celebrities, sports stars and models- I was living a rock star life. I had a great job as a doorman to one of the hottest bars in Scottsdale, a car, money and plenty of things to do as a young student in college.


But one day amidst social pressure I did something that I really regretted. The feelings of “happiness” vanished into thin air. Embarrassed and ashamed to the bone, I became more and more aware of how far from anything meaningful I was in life. I knew was not on good terms with Hashem. Little did I know that my biggest mistake in life was actually a key opening up a gate for my soul to discover itself.


The guilt that accompanied me everywhere I went was like wearing a 45-pound weight around my neck while running a marathon. My thoughts were beating myself up, life was down and sad. But through this darkness, I found myself really getting to know who I am. I left my job in the night life scene and stopped going out. I also started spending a lot less time on Facebook (eventually deleting my account- Thank G-d), and the internet in general.


Flash-forward, my parents are now getting divorced. More pain, tears and fears. What’s my purpose in life? How can I be a better person? These were the thoughts that kept going over and over in my head. But for the first time, I had a new thought, “I NEED HASHEM.” At this point however, it was more like, who the heck are the Jewish people? Why do we do all these things like Shabbat, and pray so much, what is Israel all about? Is the Torah true?  What about my tattoo?!!


Baruch Hashem, I got my answers from a Rabbi on campus who helped me during this difficult period. But had I not had the darkness, I’d still be partying in the wave of emptiness with models and bottles and trying to look cool on Facebook. Only in merit of the fall, did I wake up to my call! The only problem was that I only realized that this was for the good years later. You see in my moment of darkness I had no tools that taught me that everything is coming from Hashem, that it’s good, and that there is a reason for everything. Instead I was just in darkness trying to add light to my life that I felt ashamed about.


About a year later I found myself traveling in Israel for an extended period of time. Going to a few Yeshivas, I wanted to purify myself completely, not knowing what that really meant. One day I entered into an empty synagogue on Shabbat afternoon and came across a small pocket sized book called “Courage- Despair Does Not Exist.” Inside the book I read something that changed my life. It described how the Baal Shem Tov explained the Hebrew word for sin “CHET” (חטא). The word has three letters but the one on the furthest left side, ALEPH (א) is not sounded, it is silent. The Baal Shem Tov teaches us that this letter represents two things, ‘unity’ and ‘eternity.’ What this means is that within our wrongdoings, lies an element that is good but has been mixed up with the bad. But when we return to Hashem and continue to work on ourselves we retroactively cancel out the bad intent and only the good remains. Just as our sages say “Whoever repents transforms his transgressions into merit.”


I started to do hitbodedut (personal prayer) daily to redirect my life in a positive direction to Hashem. The darkness was still in my mind and soul. But one day, after months of studying the Garden of Emuna, In Forest Fields, and The Garden of Gratitude, I had a moment of enlightenment during my hitbodedut. I wouldn’t be who I am today, happy, connected to Hashem, keeping Torah, married, a father and living in the holy land had I not made those mistakes as before. I wouldn’t have ever cared the slightest to learn about Torah and now, it’s on my mind with a passion 24/7!!


Dear friend, if you are in the dark, you need to shine the light. Don’t worry, everyone makes mistakes, and as Rabbi Lazer Brody elaborates on King Solomon's proverbs, “A person can’t be called a tzaddik unless he’s fallen 7 times.” The point is this, it’s natural to feel guilt about what you did. But now what? You need to find the good, how are you going to change? No more looking back, make teshuva and go forward. Grab yourself some Emuna books and CD’s - just pour them on your soul. Soon you’ll be smiling and truly believing that everything is the best- Guaranteed.

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