But toxic shame plagues so many people for so long—largely because we live in a society devoid of Torah values.
We need to break through this.
Constant repetition of the Torah view helps free us from the harmful effects of toxic shame.
Only the Torah system believes in the innate loftiness of the human soul and the very real possibility of picking yourself up to go on, no matter how awful you've been.
Only the Torah system acknowledges the superhuman ability of Hashem to forgive a person who is truly sorry and truly seeks to turn over a new leaf.
So with that in mind, let's look at what we learn from the Me'am Lo'ez interpretation of Melachim/Kings I:15:16-20.
King Asa Gets Off to an Amazing Start
During his 41-year reign, King Asa accomplished massive feats in the restoration of Torah-true Judaism in his kingdom.
Early in his reign, the mighty king of Kush attacked the kingdom of Yehudah with the intent to plunder its treasures.
It looked like an easy win because the Kush army vastly outnumber the Yehudi army.
Yet King Asa turned to Hashem, Who made the army of Yehudah victorious against the might Kush.
Part of the miraculous victory included King Asa's pursuit of the fleeing enemy & his success in recovering the treasures & other loot stolen from the royal palace and the Beit Hamikdash by Shishak of Egypt.
This unbelievable victory woke up many in Am Yisrael, who saw Hashem's Hand with obvious clarity in the entire process. Pious & good-hearted members of the other 10 Tribes of Yisrael headed toward Yehudah to live under rule of this king whom Hashem clearly supported.
Other nations of that time also viewed Yehudah with newfound respect.
Yet King Asa soon faced a new nemesis: King Baasha, the king of Yisrael.
King Asa: The King of Missed Opportunities
Instead of relying on his trust-worthy Neviim/Prophets as before, King Asa turned to his regular counselors, who recommended playing politics with the king of Syria.
King Asa did so, rather than trusting in Hashem and tefillah.
King Asa won that particular battle against King Baasha, but that was not good enough.
Chanani the Seer came to King Asa and told him that had King Asa placed his trust in Hashem (rather than relying on the king of Syria) and fought King Baasha all by himself, Hashem would've granted King Asa full victory and the entire Am Yisrael would've been united again under one king—King Asa!
In other words, had King Asa listened to the Neviim and relied solely on Hashem for victory, he would have succeeded in:
- becoming king of the entire Am Yisrael
- re-uniting the split Nation into one powerful kingdom, similar to the kingdom of Shlomo Hamelech.
- fighting & overcoming Syria too (rather than bribing them, as he ended up doing)
Think of the positive ramifications that would echo into our times.
The entire Jewish history from that point would have been different.
What a massive blunder!
King Asa's Real Mistake & the Message for Us
As a messenger of Hashem, Chanani only meant to inspire King Asa to do teshuvah.
Instead, the message angered King Asa & he rebelled against it.
Even though Chanani acted only as Hashem's helpful messenger, King Asa persecuted Chanani.
When people sided with Chanani, King Asa persecuted them too.
For the rest of King Asa's reign, he suffered harassment & fighting from King Baasha.
Yet had he done teshuvah in response to Chanani's well-intended words, everything could have been different.
That was his worst mistake & ultimate missed opportunity: not doing teshuvah.
Despair overwhelmed King Asa, and that despair warped into anger—anger at an innocent victim.
(This is exactly what toxic shame does too.)
In contrast, Chazal praises the awful King Rechavam (King Asa's grandfather) for listening to the Navi Shemayah.
When Rechavam lost the 10 Tribes & Shemayah HaNavi warned him not to regain them by force, King Rechavam listened.
For all those years he obeyed Hashem's message from Shemayah HaNavi, King Rechavam's kingdom enjoyed peace & prosperity.
So too King Asa's acceptance of Chanani's Divine message and a response of teshuvah could have turned things around for him, despite the massive lost opportunity.
As the Me'am Lo'ez states (Rabbi Nathan Bushwick's English translation of Melachim I, published by Moznaim, page 365):
How terrible it is when people make this mistake, but how pitifully common!
Though by his earlier mistakes, a person may have lost a truly great potential, there is much left for him.
God still loves him and has not abandoned him.
If he trusts God and remains faithful, he can yet enjoy great blessing.
How King Asa & King Rechavam Mean Hope for Us
Like, the 10 Tribes do not remain lost because of anything you did or didn't do.
You never possessed the potential to bring Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael back to Solomonic peace, piety, power, and prosperity—and the non-existence of a kingdom similar to Shlomo Hamelech's has nothing to do with you personally.
Our current lack of reign over Syria is in no way any fault of yours.
Furthermore, you are probably nowhere near as faulty as King Rechavam, who split the kingdom, allowed the introduction of idol worship, and a whole slew of harmful stuff—yet simply by obeying Hashem word in ONE area (remember, he still had all that idol-worshipping occult stuff going on), he merited peace & prosperity for as long as his renewed obedience to God (in that ONE area) remained.
Have you caused a generations-long split in Am Yisrael or introduced widespread occult worship?
See? You're not so bad!
Your mistakes, failures, and blunders aren't so bad!
So if there was a chance for them, there's definitely a chance for you.
It's a tremendous kal v'chomer.
As the Me'am Lo'ez states, Hashem still loves you and has NOT abandoned you!
The lives of King Asa & King Rechavam show us that no matter how badly you've messed up, THERE IS STILL HOPE.
Pick yourself up, learn from your mistakes, and keep moving FORWARD.
"Trust Hashem, remain faithful to Hashem...
...and you can still enjoy great blessing."
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