My husband just called to tell me that we got a $115 parking ticket. (Ouch!) We live in the city, so the Blockbusters here don’t have parking lots, but we had a DVD that needed to be returned. There were no legal parking spots available when my husband got to the store, so he parked right in front (in a bus zone), left his blinkers on, and ran in, continuously looking out the window.
Sure enough, a cop pulled up, and my husband bolted out of the store as soon as he saw him. My husband pleaded with the policeman, explaining that he had only been gone for a minute and that he had to return a DVD. But the cop told him there was nothing he could do, for he had already started to write the ticket. And in policeman land, there’s no way to erase a ticket once a cop has started to fill it out – even if there is only a single letter on that ticket – the iniquity is permanent.
But God is better than policemen (and not just for the whole omnipotent/omniscient thing). No, God is better than the cops because in Judaism, there is no such thing as a ticket that can never be erased. With the process of teshuva, which is translated as repentance, but literally means “return”, when a person sincerely regrets what he’s does and “returns” to a better place, whatever he did wrong is completely undone. Which is more than just erasing, actually. Because erasing always leaves a little residue, a slight reminder of what was once there. But when a person truly does teshuva, whatever he did wrong, in the eyes of God, transforms into something that never actually happened. Which is a pretty charitable way to set up the universe, since we people are so prone to mistake making.
Oh, if only the cops could be so forgiving…..