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Thought for the Day: Why T'shuva is More Acceptable at Rosh HaShanah

The end of the bracha ashar yatzar says, "u'mafli la'asos" -- and does wonders.  See Shulchan Aruch O.Ch. 6 for a list of the many wonders involved.  The Rama at the end add that this particular phrase is referring to the wonder of the soul, which is entirely spiritual, being kept within and connected to the body, which is entirely physical.  What is so wondrous?  At least one of the wonders is that the concept of boundaries and extent do not apply to the soul at all, but it is somehow bound with the body that is all about limitations.  In fact, the greatest wonder of all (to me) is how time gets involved.  We are so immersed in and bound to the dimension time that we cannot even really conceive what it means to live outside of time.  We speak, for example, of HaShem's foreknowledge, but that's not quite accurate because without time there is no before and no after; there just is.

I would like to suggest that that is why reality is built with cycles.  Cycles are a sort of compromise between the spiritual and physical.  The constant movement through time is accompanied by a waxing and waning of access to transcendent spiritual potentials.   There is, for example, the daily cycle that represents the creation of a human being, which is why we have morning brachos that give praise for each of our abilities.  There is the weekly cycle that represents the creation of the world, ending each week with Shabbos and then beginning anew.  Then there is the annual cycle that brings us the shalosh r'galim and yamim nora'im.

The Mabit uses this idea of cycles to explain why t'shuva is more acceptable around Rosh HaShanah.  It is not just by accident that the season that corresponds to the creation of the world and the days of awe coincide.  That is, "dirshu HaShem b'hi'matzo" -- seek HaShem (in t'shuva) when He may be found (yamim nora'im) (Yeshayahu 45:6) -- is specifically refering the time in the annual cycle that corresponds to the the creation of the world; "hayom haras olam" -- today the world was born.  When HaShem created the world, He knew that people would sin (He pretty much designed it that way).  Therefore, t'shuva was created along with (and even before) the world.  As the season of creation comes around, so does the power of and desire for t'shuva; on both sides.  But there is even more.

Anyone who has ever experienced the birth of a child (any child, but especially one's own) has felt an unbridled love like nothing else.  In fact, those feelings of love are so strong and intense, it is impossible to imagine every being angry with the child.  Anyone who has reared children (especially through the teenage years), knows that we learn how we could possibly be angry with the child... the ravages of time dull the intensity (but not depth) of those initial feelings.

HaShem, outside time, experiences no dulling of feelings, of course.  So every year as Rosh HaShanah comes, HaShem is (so to speak) feeling those undiminished feelings of love He felt at the first moments of creation and is open and ready to be found by those who seek.

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