Within today’s daf (Ketubot 75a) is a commentary of Rabbi Meyasha the grandson of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi on a verse from Tehillim 87:5 where we are taught: וּלֲצִיּוֹן יֵאָמַר אִישׁ וְאִישׁ יֻלַּד בָּהּ – ‘of Zion it is said, “one and all were born there”’ which Rabbi Meyasha interprets to mean that just as one who was physically born in Zion has that title of יֻלַּד בָּהּ (born there), so too, someone who was physically born elsewhere but who is מְצַפֶּה לִרְאוֹתָהּ – meaning that they yearn to see Zion and to see themselves living there, is nevertheless considered as one who is יֻלַּד בָּהּ (born there).
On a personal note, this Gemara gave me great comfort in my early 20’s when I wanted to live in Israel but was then living in the UK and was committed to various projects. I yearned for Israel but wasn’t living there. Yet it validated my hopes and made me realize that while I was not physically יֻלַּד בָּהּ, I was certainly of those who was מְצַפֶּה לִרְאוֹתָהּ.
Yet the message of this Gemara goes far beyond the question of where you live and what you hope for – because it suggests that if you desperately want something, your past can, in some form, change to reflect your hopes for your future – such as in this case where מְצַפֶּה לִרְאוֹתָהּ leads someone being considered to be יֻלַּד בָּהּ.
And where else do we see such a phenomenon? The answer is in the discussions surround the laws of teshuvah where we are taught (see Yoma 86b, on the basis of Yechezkel 33:19) concerning someone who returns to God out of love that זְּדוֹנוֹת נַעֲשׂוֹת לוֹ כִּזְכִיּוֹת – meaning that our intentional sins are transformed into being merits.
Admittedly, many people over the years have struggled to understand this teaching. However, what it seems to mean is that if you yearn to be someone who is lives a life of goodness and righteousness, then even your past mistakes are recategorized as positive acts as they have enabled you to reach this point of doing teshuvah – meaning that your past can change to reflect your hopes for your future.
Too often we think we can’t change our future because of our past. But what we learn from today’s daf is that by changing our future, we can – in fact – change our past.