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Tues Sept 8
Today is the nineteenth day of Elul!
In the seventh chapter of Hilchot Teshuva the Rambam says:
הוֹאִיל וּרְשׁוּת כָּל אָדָם נְתוּנָה לוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ יִשְׁתַּדֵּל אָדָם לַעֲשׂוֹת תְּשׁוּבָה וּלְהִתְוַדּוֹת בְּפִיו מֵחֲטָאָיו וְלִנְעֹר כַּפָּיו מֵחֲטָאָיו כְּדֵי שֶׁיָּמוּת וְהוּא בַּעַל תְּשׁוּבָה וְיִזְכֶּה לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא:
“Since free choice is granted to all men as explained, a person should always strive to do Teshuvah and to confess verbally for his sins, striving to cleanse his hands from sin in order that he may die as a Baal-Teshuvah and merit the life of the world to come.”
The Rambam’s formulation here is remarkably different than in the first six chapters of Hilchot Teshuva where he reiterates numerous times that Teshuva is a mitzvah, an absolute and objective obligation of the Torah for anyone who sins.  Yet, here in the seventh chapter he says “a person should always strive to do Teshuva.”  Strive!?? Aren’t I obligated?  What an empowering thought:  Perhaps the Rambam is encouraging all of us who fail over and over at Teshuva and telling us that all we can do is try our best.  We shouldn’t feel depressed or exasperated but know that all that is expected of us is our best attempt.  Perhaps if we do that, Hashem will help us along the rest of the way!  Today, think about whether you have sincerely tried your best to correct some of the mistakes and failings of your past and how you might reinvest yourself in that endeavour during these days of Elul. 

Fri, September 18 2020 29 Elul 5780