by Reb Gutman Locks
Everyone knows that the past is over. But if our past deeds are causing things to happen in our present life, then our past is not over.
If we can change the way our past is influencing our present, we will, in effect, have changed our past.
Many religions and philosophies teach that everything happens to us according to divine destiny, according to our fixed karma. They explain that we are who we are, and we are doing what we are doing, solely because of what we did in the past. They say that our future is already determined, too.
We also have a similar concept, "portion across from portion",[i] which means "whatever you do comes back to you," but the Torah calls divine destiny and fixed karma, fatalism. The fixed future principle is only true if we continue in the direction we were going. But, we can turn any time we want.
There is Mercy in the world. Mercy is not deserved. Justice is deserved. Mercy is a gift from love.
We certainly deserve punishment for many of our past deeds, but when we realize that those deeds were harmful we can turn from them and do good instead. Then, not only will our past improper deeds not harm us, they will come to witness for our merit.
The witnessing angel calls out, "Look what he turned from, and see what he is doing today!"
Soon it will be the month of Elul. The theme of Elul is, "I am for my Beloved and my Beloved is for me." It is a time to tell G-d how much you love Him.
[i] mida k'neged mida