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Devar Torah - Vayeilech

Thursday, 3 October, 2019 - 8:08 pm

Shabbos Teshuva

By Rabbi Shimon Raichik

During these days of the eseres yemei teshuva, a time when Hashem is near to all who call out to Him I would like to wish everyone a chasima and gmar chasima tovah. 

The Gemara refers to these days as the ten days of teshuva that occur between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. The Rebbe points out that there are only seven days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, and then asks what the Gemara’s intention is in saying that there are ten days when actually are only seven. The Rebbe explains by first pointing out the common denominator that Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and the eseres yemei teshuva all share. He then explains the unique aspect each day has, and finally what all of this teaches us in the service of Hashem. 

The theme of Rosh Hashana is coronation; crowning Hashem as the King. We do not say vidui at all on Rosh Hashana. This teaches us not to focus on ourselves, but upon Hashem alone; how He is the King and we are his servants. This is the service of bitul; to nullify the focus on our individual lives and to accept making Hashem the center of our attention 24/7. Only once we have established Hashem as the King and us as His servants do we begin to think of ourselves as  an individual. We ask ourselves; how is this service of Hashem expressed in my daily life?

After this comes the eseres yemei teshuva. During these days we begin to analyze our past behavior, decide how well we served Hashem last year, and how we will correct and improve to better fulfill Hashem’s wishes and will in the coming year. Each of the seven days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur correspond to a different day of the week. As we go through each day, we review how we acted on that day throughout the previous year, and then plan corrections and improvements for that day of the coming year. 

After these seven days we reach Yom Kippur, a day when we do teshuva, in order to tap into ‘itzumo shel yom mikaper’, in order to allow the essence of the day to atone. For this we need to do teshuva and say vidui to let the essence of a person become united with the essence of Hashem. When this happens all of our aveiras are forgiven so completely that they were never there; the only thing remaining is the inner connection between the neshama and Hashem. It is not enough to rely solely upon the power of the day itself, ‘itzumo shel yom’ to accomplish this, but we must do our part by making ourselves a vessel in order to bring this about, which is through teshuva and vidui. There are many stories about Jews from all walks of life who went to tremendous  efforts to be in shul or fast when they heard that Yom Kippur was coming because Itzumo shel yom mikaper, its a day when the essence of a person becomes united with the essence of Hashem.

Let us all use these days of the eseres yemai teshuva and Shabbos Teshuva to do our utmost to rectify the past and prepare for the coming year. 

Through doing teshuva may we merit to see the return of the Shechina to Tzion, immediately in these days. Good Shabbos

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