Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Zos Chanukah & King Menashe

by GYE, MosheW (See all authors)

Many Sefarim bring down that the final judgement that began on Rosh Hashana can still be reversed until Zos Chanukah. One of the Karliner Rebbes once said that "the shmattes can shelp their Teshuvah until Zos Chanukah". We're all shmattes, and we can all grab ahold of this last opportunity for the Teshuvah that we began on Rosh Hashana.

In this light, I would like to bring a powerful post about Teshuvah from our forum by "MosheW", based on a lecture he once head from Rabbi Wachsman of Monsey:

There is an amazing (yet little known) medrash about King Menasha that I would like to share with the chevra:

At about the midpoint of Menasha's reign, the Babylonians (or Assyrians, depending on the source) kidnapped him and brought him back to Babylon (as stated in Divrei HaYamim / Chronicles). They placed him in a giant pot at started cooking him alive. Suddenly, as things were heating up, Menasha started calling out to all the pagan deities he worshiped, pleading with them to save him. As thing were getting hotter and hotter to the point where he could no longer take it, he suddenly remembered that his father once told him that "even if a sharp sword is resting on your neck, don't give up, the Ribono Shel Olam can still have mercy". Left with no choice, he called out to Hashem and brazenly said,"if You help me - good, and if not, You are no better than all the other pagan deities that I worship". The medrash continues that when the Angels heard this, they went ballistic. "How dare he talk to God that way!" they said. Quickly, they sealed all the doors and windows leading to Hashem's heavenly chamber, in an effort to block his prayers. In response, our loving Father in Heaven dug a small tunnel under His Kisei HaKavod (Holy Throne), allowing Menasha's prayers to come before Him. The Angels were perplexed as to why Hashem would allow and accept such a brazen attempt of repentance. Hashem explained that "if I close the door of repentance before Menasha then I have to close the door of repentance before every single sinner in the future". Suddenly Menasha found himself back in Jerusalem on his throne.

Let us analyze this story, if we may. Who was Menasha? Chaza"l tell us that Menasha was a mass murderer. He built idols that were so enormous and heavy that it took one thousand people to move them, and many people were crushed by their weight in the process. He sacrificed his own children to the Baal. He placed multiple brazen images in the holy of holies so that regardless of which direction the divine presence turned, it would be forced to see the images and get angry. Chaza"l further relate that Menasha had relations with his sister just for spite (not for pleasure). Basically, we are talking about someone who was the worst of the worst, who sinned just for spite, all the while forcing others to sin as well. Menasha was so successful in eradicating Torah from the Jewish people, that his own grandson Yoshiyahu (Josiah) did not see an actual Sefer Torah for the first 20 years of his life.

Looking at Menasha and the way he lived, one would think that perhaps he had a difficult childhood, or maybe he came from a broken home, maybe his father was abusive; bad friends, etc. Who was Menasha's father? His father was Chezkiah (Hezekiah). The Gemara states that Chezkiah was among the greatest kings from the house of King David, second only to King David himself. He was so great and lofty that Hashem wanted to make Chezkiah the Moshiach. After his passing, they placed a Sefer Torah on his bier proclaiming: "this one fulfilled everything that is written in this one". Basically, Menasha was the worst of the worst, and at the same time, he was the son of the best of the best. Yet Hashem lovingly accepted his brazen repentance, so much so, that he built a special tunnel for it to come directly before Him.

Why did Hashem do this? The commentaries explain that at that moment of Teshuvah, Menasha was sincere and truly wanted to return to God (even though he was slowly becoming soup). As a matter of fact, he did indeed spend his remaining years trying to reverse all the atrocities he committed.

Sit back and think for a moment. We are not Menasha, nor have we committed anything close to what he did. Therefore, how much more so will our loving Father in Heaven accept us and our Teshuvah?

As you are reading this posting, He is sitting on his Kisei HaKavod looking into that tunnel and waiting for us to come home. As bad or dark as it may seem to be, even if we have fallen so deep "into the soup" that we can't crawl out, ALWAYS remember Menasha, what he did, and how Hashem took him back.