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Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Betraying G-d's Confidentiality

Daf Yomi Nedarim 73

Lately there has been a rash of young people bragging on social media that they are no longer observant of Torah and mitzvos.  The phenomenon has grown so wildly that they have adopted the moniker OTD – Off The Derech (spiritual path).  Rather than a mark of embarrassment, they wear their OTD badge with pride, bandying it about for all to see and encouraging others to jump on their wayward bandwagon. 

Sadly, it’s become somewhat of a competition for these poor souls.
“Hey, yesterday, I ate at McDonalds.”
“Oh, that’s nothing.  Last week, Yom Kippur fell on Shabbat.  Cigarette in hand, I drove my motorbike around the shul parking lot, and then went and ate a shrimp and pork cheeseburger with my non-Jewish partner.”

We do not give the bitter waters to two Sotahs (women suspected of infidelity) at the same time, because each one will become emboldened by her friend.
Rashi explains: Perhaps one of them will refuse to admit that she acted impurely.  Her friend will then sees her standing up to the public humiliation and become likewise emboldened to refuse to admit her guilt.  

Back in the day, when people became lax in their observance of mitzvos, they kept it between themselves and G-d.  Who else’s business is it, anyway?  Today, however, in the information age, they all want to share every iota of their personal lives with the world via social media.  What ends up happening is that these people seek a subculture of likeminded individuals, because ‘misery loves company.’

And what was formerly a private matter has now turned into a whole new subculture of people who are proudly ‘out of the OTD closet.’  It’s no longer shameful; everyone’s doing it!  That was the fear of our Sages in having two sotahs stand trial on the same day – if I acted improperly, it’s embarrassing; but if everyone’s doing it, it’s ‘kinda cool!’ 

Actually, it’s tragic.  In fact, our Sages anticipated such a phenomenon and already long ago warned us about teshuvah (repentance).  When you sin against your fellow human being, you must admit your sin to them and make amends, in order for your teshuvah to be effective.  In contrast, when you sin against G-d, you should not tell anyone – it is consider the height of haughtiness to mention your sin.  Certainly, those who brag about their OTD status, sadly, leave a lot to be desired.

Nobody is perfect.  We all have our flaws and deficiencies in our avodas Hashem (service of G-d).  But they’re between you and G-d.  Nobody else needs to know.  Quietly work on improving yourself, little by little.  The only exception would be someone like a spouse, close friend, or rabbi, who you think might be able to help you improve in your mitzvah performance.  Otherwise, keep it between you and G-d.  If you are truly sincere in your desire to improve, the Almighty will come to your assistance.

Just because everyone’s doing it doesn’t mean you should.  You’re not everyone; you’re better than them.  May you merit constant improvement in your avodas Hashem and the integrity to maintain the necessary tact and confidentiality in your personal relationship with the Almighty!