Teshuva from a Troll

If for some strange reason you are not yet following me on TikTok, I am going to have to go ahead and ask you to stop whatever you are doing right now, and go follow @therealtiktokrabbi right now. Not to toot my own horn, or anything, but I make life changing videos on a daily basis. Regardless, the other day, when we were vacationing in New Mexico, I posted a beautiful video of the sun setting. I wrote a Hebrew caption taken from the Book of Psalms that translates as, “How wondrous are your creatures, oh G-d.”

Admittedly, sometimes things can get a little bit tense on my TikTok account. Specifically, when I post anything about Israel, or my newly found distaste for Ben and Jerry’s. But some things, like beautiful New Mexican sunsets, are topics that are as uncontroversial as one can possibly fathom. It came to my great surprise, therefore, when someone posted on my video, “Free Palestine.”

I tried to think of what the connection was between the sun setting in New Mexico, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but alas, I could think of nothing. I made a video as a response to that comment, in which I wondered what the connection was.

I expected no response, or some ignorant, unpleasant response, but the response I got from the commenter truly surprised me. They wrote, ” I’m sorry….(I was) wrong. My bad ❤ .”

While it is true and undeniable that this commenter and I vehemently disagree on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, I must admit to having appreciated this response. Perhaps because it was not what I expected, or perhaps because of the timing of it: This happened on Rosh Chodesh Elul, which marks one month before Rosh Hashana. It is a month of introspection, of looking deeply into our lives, and embarking on teshuva– a process of returning to G-d, by acknowledging our shortcomings, abandoning sinful behavior, feeling regret over the behavior, confessing it before G-d, and accepting upon ourselves in the future to abandon the behavior.

For so many of us– and I see this with my young children– it is SO HARD to say the three magic words: “I was wrong.” It is something that I try to instill within my children. Sometimes I make mistakes as a parent. Sometimes I overreact to something, and treat them unfairly. And whenever I do, it is not long until I go to them, and tell them I was wrong. I want them to see that we are not infallible creatures, and everyone– even Tatty– makes mistakes. This ability to admit making a mistake is a vital step in teshuva, and it can truly put us back on the right track. Indeed, it is hard to repent from wrong-doing if one has no awareness whatsoever to having committed any kind of wrong in the first place.

It was thus an unexpected, and rather pleasant reminder from my new “friend” on TikTok, that I will carry with me as we move closer to our exalted High Holidays.

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