The history of Israel (God’s “first-born” and unique son) is something like this: He ( Israel) is self-willed and with a strong desire to be free to do as he pleases. As a result he nurtures and cherishes the desire to be his father’s enemy. The father desires to rebuke and correct his son. Alas, this affection angers the son and causes him to become more stiff-necked and distant. The son’s aversion grows so strong that he comes to see his father as a bully and a tyrant.
The son’s hatred grows so strong that the mere thought of his father makes him ill. His hatred is exacerbated by those of similar dispositions around him. No matter how much the father pleads and tries to show kindness, the son spurns this love. “Tonight, I’m going awhoring.” Suppose that this enmity continues for months, for years. Do you think the son is able, in a moment, or at any time of his choosing, to turn this ill-will into a godly sorrow and a desire to repent and be reconciled to his father? His father has been pleading with him. “Take out you heart of stone, and replace it with a heart of soft warm flesh.” Or to say it another way: “Circumcise your heart.” “After all, the father says, what I want you to do is not on Mars or under the sea; it’s as close to you as it can get.”
The son is do deep in the mire (“second nature”) of self-love and enmity towards his father that he is unable to change AND doesn’t want to change. Do we exonerate an inveterate criminal because he can’t help doing what he loves doing? No. A large part of the history of Israel is like that of an inveterate criminal. The father alternates between pleading “why won’t you turn?” and venting his hot anger by inflicting the ultimate punishment – mayhem and destruction. The son was unable to change yet was exceedingly culpable – to the point of near annihilation.
This is not the end. If it were, what a sorry tale that would be. The father decides to have mercy on a remnant, so that a stump of a stump of his son remained. And not because of anything good he saw in them.
Renewed Garden of Eden
Jossl – Issy, how did you manage to make it, you were such a schmoozer?
Issy – To you yes. But our father sees more than you can see, and so he saw that I was basically a good sort underneath.
Jossl – Shucks, you’re far better than I. I was the biggest ganef (thief) on earth, right down to my socks.
Issy – How can that be! How did you get in, then?
Jossl – Simple, for our father. He said he was going to circumcise my heart, and so here I am. You never believed the scriptures.
Issy – No, I do; you’ve got it all wrong; he said you must circumcise your own heart.
Jossl – But later father said, “I will circumcise your heart.”
Issy – Oh. So I suppose a bit of both. You circumcise a bit of your heart – the big bit? – and father will circumcise the other bit.
Jossl – Did you read that in the Talmud? The way I see it, now that father has opened my eyes, when he says he will do something he means HE will do it – ALL; especially when he goes on about it: ” I will…I will…I will…I will…” Amazing! Hey, you know what’s also amazing?
Issy – What?
Jossl – That He saved a chochem (wiseacre, idiot) like you.