Why Teshuvah, Tefillah, and Tzedakah?

Another thought on doing mitzvot for the zechut  of Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali’s return.  Everyone knows that teshuvah, tefillah, and tzedakah make up the triumvirate that cause harsh decrees to be rescinded.  Why?  Rabbi Mosheh Lichtenstein suggested in a sicha yesterday that all of these three emphasize our awareness that we are vulnerable. When we do Teshuva, we focus on the fact that we have done wrong and reflect on that.  We admit our mistakes, recognize that we don’t have a right to demand God to help us, but we hope that by admitting then humbly, God will act mercifully with us.   Regarding tefillah, our admission that we need God’s help is definitional.  As Ramban says, the paradigmatic prayer, that which he admits is biblical, is tefillah b’eit tzara, prayer in times of distress.  The Rav suggested that even the position of Rambam, that tefillah is a biblical mitzvah every day is based on the notion that man is always vulnerable.  As for tzedakah, we admit that not only does man need God, but man needs other people.  When we recognize that we need God and others, we develop a closeness that itself provides a basis for God to have mercy on us.  We also grow in the process which is also significant.  As I mentioned yesterday here, the Netziv suggests that any mitzvah we do with this recognition is a legitimate way of beseeching God.   As a reminder, there are many projects encouraging learning for the zechut of Eyal, Naftali, and Gilad, such as this joint project here.  Another one of my friends, Ari Lamm, has started one which can be accessed here.

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