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    The secret things – Nitzavim

    quiet silenceIt’s a wonderful but difficult verse – “The secret things belong to the Lord our God; the revealed things are ours and our children’s for ever” (Deut. 29:28).

    Jewish commentary offers a range of explanations. Some scholars say that this verse shows the difference between types of wrongful acts.

    “Public” wrongs are judged by human law courts; “private” sins are dealt with by God.

    In this sense the verse is telling us that things that we thought no-one knew about are known to God, and no-one can escape the Almighty’s account and reckoning. How God knows, and how He deals with such things, is His concern.

    One of the questions which the verse impels upon us is how to define the “secret” things.

    There is no one answer but in many cases what goes with being “secret” is that we are privately ashamed of what we said or did and would not want other people to know about it.

    Does this then mean that acts of stupidity will always be held against us by God?

    Of course not, since there is such a thing as repentance. According to Maimonides, there are three elements in repentance – admitting the sin (and the hardest part of this is probably admitting it to oneself), regretting it, and resolving not to repeat it.

    It’s a pertinent subject for us to contemplate at this time of the Jewish year.

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