Sin is a word that has become very unpopular and fallen almost into disuse in our time. In the secular world it is nothing but a mockery, and even from the pulpit is rarely anymore used, in avoidance of making congregants at all uncomfortable, though its effects are undeniably seen around us daily be it murders, suicides, thefts, adulteries, lying and the like.
Sin is perhaps like the elephant in the room that nobody dares speak of. It is like a fog that comes in to blind the eyes, so much so that one may even come to the point of declaring that God does not exist, like a thick fog that blocks out both sun and moon as if they had never existed, creating a world in which every effort must be made only to find ways of negotiating through the fog of darkness.
Sin is not an act only, but a step in a direction. Once that direction is chosen, the next step leads further in that direction, and a thousand steps even much further, along with its inevitable consequences. It is not only applicable to an individual, but to an entire culture, or even the race of humankind. It is a dilemma of a search for light when one is moving further from the source of light.
Like that thick fog, sin separates humans from their Creator. The further one travels in that fog the more are its accumulative effects and risks and tragedies, to the point where God is beyond consciousness, on the other side of the fog, tempting many to declare God’s nonexistence. The option left then is to continue forth, seeking only various solutions to the consequences brought on by sin. Or the other option of teshuva, the Hebrew antidote for sin, which is to turn around and change direction back to the Source- repentance.
The Hebrew word for sin is khet, meaning the same as one firing at a target and missing it. The Hebrew opposite to khet is torah, meaning the instruction for achieving the target, built on the root yara, to shoot an arrow or a projectile. When a bow or a rifle is misaimed by a centimeter, the projectile’s trajectory will widen as it moves toward the target, missing by many centimeters at fifty yards, and even more at one hundred yards. If put into terms of time rather than space, the trajectory will widen with time, until at a thousand years the target will be out of the picture entirely, lost to view in space-time, and the projectile moving away from that missed target.
Is there in reality a target, or objective to be sought? ‘This day I put before you life and death, the blessing and the curse’ (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) is the choice of targets for us all. But how is it possible to turn the course of the mighty river into which we have been tossed floundering downstream to the falls? Perhaps to climb out and seek to walk back to that refreshing spring at which the river began its flow? Unlikely, as the exhaustion of philosophers and rock musicians dead of drug overdose would tell you, if they could. Or Sisyphus in his vain efforts to roll the boulder up the hill only to have it roll back down. Sin is like the river from which we all drink, a river that unbeknownst to us has been polluted by a toxic leak far upstream, but drink we must from the waters that make us confused and lethargic. That river is the history of humanity that has flowed down to us as our family inheritance.
It takes nothing short of a miracle to retrace the effects of eons of time and history, and to re-find that pure Spring gushing with the living waters from which life sprang before its pollution. And that miracle is to be found at perhaps a most unlikely place: in a seed. It is a tiny seed that passed down to us through that human history, from the loins of Abraham to Jacob and Judah and David to be born by Providential appointment in the same village of David’s birth, Bethlehem (the House of Bread), to perform that miracle. A miracle it is, though many may mock miracles, nevertheless one who tastes the miracle forever knows it is real as the deep fog parts and the magnificent light breaks through from a kingdom without end. Forgiven, it is the re-birth of hope from despair, thanksgiving from rage and depression in beholding the face of God. It is that seed of David born a Jew who would walk a brief life of mercy only to be betrayed by humanity and crucified to pass through the throes of death and conquer it in resurrection, leaving in his own death our own sins, that we may rise with him cleansed to a new life that speaks of wonders that only the innocent hope of a child can see in its splendor, and fully appreciate.