Hoazinu-Ten Days

“Even though teshuva and crying out to the One above are always good,during the ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, they are especially efficacious and immediately accep[ted Above, as it says, “Look for God when He is found, call upon Him when He is near.”  These are the words of the Rambam in Hilchot Teshuva 2:6.  They come from the Talmud (Rosh Hashana 18A), which applies them to the need for the public to pray to God in order to nullify an evil decree, as well as to the ten days of teshuva.

The full verse reads, “Look for God when He is to be found, call to Him when He is near.”  It comes from Isaiah 55:6, and it describes two human activities, with two corresponding categories of spiritual revelation.  The two activities are 1) looking for Him, and 2) calling Him.  The two categories of revelation are: 1) God is found, and 2) God is nearby.  The verse implies that “looking for Him” occurs when He is around (“found”), while calling out to Him occurs when He is nearby.   In either case, the human activity is a result, and not a cause of Godly revelation.  We look for Him and call to Him because He is in proximity.  Our activity does not cause His proximity.

The “finding” referred to in this verse is very specific.  Although in general, we may find something whether we are looking for it or not, here “finding” occurs specifically when we are not looking for Him.  We may be focussed upon another topic altogether, but nevertheless we may “find” God.  And for that reason, it may occur even to a Jew who is divorced from anything Godly or spiritual.

During the process of teshuva during the month of Ellul, we may become depressed over our distance from God and from His Torah.  A sense of failure to live up to expectations may pervade us, and we may even consider “giving up.”  That’s why the verse tells us, “Look for HIm when He is found” – because during the ten days of teshuva, our personal spiritual status doesn’t matter.  God is equally accessible to all of us, even to those who have concluded that they are very low on the spiritual ladder.  And the reason for this is because we are all like children to God, and a parent never disowns or gives up on his children.  We may misbehave, we may “act out,” but He is always there to accept us and welcome us back into the “fold.”

But, as if that is not enough, the verse tells us that God is not only “found,” but He is “nearby.”  He is there for us in a way that is conscious and revealed during these ten days between R’H and Yom Kippur.  We might think otherwise, that even if He “accepts us,” that doesn’t mean that He tries to be close to us, after our imperfect behavior of the previous year.  The end of the verse, “…call out to Him when He is close” – tells us otherwise.  Even if we just made it back into the “fold” and we’re not yet perfectly “clean,” He is still there for us like a father who dotes on His children.

And the fact that He is there for us, not only “found,” but also “nearby,” is what encourages and inspires us to actively search for Him and hope to experience His presence in our lives.

For a longer more detailed version, go to www.jerusalemconnection.org

From Likutei Sichot of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, vol 34, page 200

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