Now, if mere mortals are also expected to forgive instantly, what kind of praise is it that we offer the Infinite One in Shemoneh Esreh by ascribing a like attribute to Him? This is the question that the Alter Rebbe now anticipates:

As to the fact that we praise and bless G-d as being “the gracious One Who abounds in forgiveness”—the verb chosen is marbeh (“abounds”), implying a quality unique to G-d.

וּמַה שֶּׁמְּשַׁבְּחִים וּמְבָרְכִים אֶת ה' "חַנּוּן הַמַּרְבֶּה לִסְלוֹחַ" – "הַמַּרְבֶּה" דַּיְיקָא,

In Ezra,12 [too,] we find that G-d “pardons abundantly.”

וּכְמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּעֶזְרָא "וְרַב לִסְלוֹחַ",

This means:


In the mortal world, if one person harms another and asks his pardon, which is granted,

שֶׁבְּמִדַּת בָּשָׂר וָדָם, אִם יֶחֱטָא אִישׁ לְאִישׁ וּבִיקֵּשׁ מִמֶּנּוּ מְחִילָה וּמָחַל לוֹ

and then repeats the misdeed,

וְאַחַר כָּךְ חָזַר לְסוּרוֹ –

it becomes very difficult to grant pardon again,

קָשֶׁה מְאֹד שֶׁיִּמְחוֹל לוֹ שֵׁנִית,

and certainly a third and fourth time.

וּמִכָּל שֶׁכֵּן בִּשְׁלִישִׁית וּרְבִיעִית.

By the standard of G-d, however, there is no difference between once and a thousand times,

אֲבָל בְּמִדַּת הַקָּדוֹשׁ־בָּרוּךְ־הוּא אֵין הֶפְרֵשׁ בֵּין פַּעַם אַחַת לְאֶלֶף פְּעָמִים,

for pardon is a manifestation of the attribute of mercy,

כִּי הַמְּחִילָה הִיא מִמִּדַּת הָרַחֲמִים,

and Divine attributes are not bounded and finite; they are infinite,

וּמִדּוֹתָיו הַקְּדוֹשׁוֹת אֵינָן בִּבְחִינַת גְּבוּל וְתַכְלִית, אֶלָּא בִּבְחִינַת אֵין־סוֹף,

as in the verse, “For His mercies have not ended.”13

כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב "כִּי לֹא כָלוּ רַחֲמָיו",

Relative to infinity, there is no difference whatsoever between a small number and a large one,

וּלְגַבֵּי בְּחִינַת אֵין־סוֹף אֵין הֶפְרֵשׁ כְּלָל בֵּין מִסְפָּר קָטָן לְגָדוֹל,

for “before Him, all are considered as naught,”14 and “He makes equal the small and the great….”15

דְּ"כוּלָּא קַמֵּיהּ כְּלָא – מַמָּשׁ – חֲשִׁיב", וּ"מַשְׁוֶה קָטָן וְגָדוֹל וְכוּ'".

Therefore, “He removes our sins every year.”16

וְלָכֵן "מַעֲבִיר אַשְׁמוֹתֵינוּ בְּכָל שָׁנָה וְשָׁנָה",

As to all the sins for which we confess in the Al Chet annually, though repeatedly violated,

וְכָל הַחֲטָאִים שֶׁמִּתְוַודִּים בְּ"עַל חֵטְא" מִדֵּי שָׁנָה, אַף שֶׁחָזַר וְעָבַר עֲלֵיהֶם –

we again confess for them on Yom Kippur in the coming year, and so on always.

חוֹזֵר וּמִתְוַדֶּה עֲלֵיהֶם בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים בְּשָׁנָה הַבָּאָה, וְכֵן לְעוֹלָם.

“Every year” does not necessarily imply a yearly pardon, for three times every day, we pronounce, “Blessed are You, O G-d, Who is gracious and abounds in forgiveness.”

וּ"בְכָל שָׁנָה וְשָׁנָה" לָאו דַּוְקָא, אֶלָּא כְּמוֹ כֵן בְּכָל יוֹם וָיוֹם ג' פְּעָמִים מְבָרְכִים: "בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' חַנּוּן הַמַּרְבֶּה לִסְלוֹחַ",

As our Sages teach,17 the prayers were instituted in place of the daily sacrificial offerings.

וּכְמַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "תְּפִלָּה כְּנֶגֶד תְּמִידִין תִּקְּנוּהָ",

The daily morning sacrifice would atone for the sins of the previous night, and the daily evening sacrifice atoned for the sins of the past day,

וְתָמִיד שֶׁל שַׁחַר הָיָה מְכַפֵּר עַל עֲבֵירוֹת הַלַּיְלָה, וְתָמִיד שֶׁל בֵּין הָעַרְבַּייִם עַל שֶׁל יוֹם,

and so on, day by day, constantly.

וְכֵן מִדֵּי יוֹם בְּיוֹם לְעוֹלָם:

Just as in former times, atonement was secured by the regular altar offerings, nowadays, too, our prayers and repentance bring about forgiveness.

What, however, is the difference between the forgiveness granted on Yom Kippur and that granted daily?

[“Every year” means only that] Yom Kippur atones for the grave sins while the regular offering of the olah sacrifice atoned only for the violation of positive commands.

אֶלָּא שֶׁיּוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים מְכַפֵּר עַל עֲבֵירוֹת חֲמוּרוֹת, וְהַתָּמִיד, שֶׁהוּא קָרְבַּן עוֹלָה, מְכַפֵּר עַל מִצְוֹת עֲשֵׂה בִּלְבַד,

In our time, worship with repentance [substitutes for offerings], atoning only for violations of positive commands, as noted above.

וְכֵן הַתְּפִלָּה בִּזְמַן הַזֶּה עִם הַתְּשׁוּבָה, כַּנִּזְכָּר לְעֵיל.

However, this thrice-daily recitation of G-d’s assurance of forgiveness is not [the attitude of one who says,] “I will sin and [later] repent,” concerning whom our Sages say, “He is not granted an opportunity to repent.”18

וְאֵין זֶה "אֶחֱטָא וְאָשׁוּב",

For that is relevant only if while committing the sin, he could have overcome his evil impulse but depended in his heart on repenting [later].

כִּי הַיְינוּ דַוְקָא שֶׁבִּשְׁעַת הַחֵטְא הָיָה יָכוֹל לִכְבּוֹשׁ יִצְרוֹ, אֶלָּא שֶׁסּוֹמֵךְ בְּלִבּוֹ עַל הַתְּשׁוּבָה,

Since it was [the opportunity for] repentance that caused him to sin, “He is not granted an opportunity [to repent],”

וְלָכֵן, הוֹאִיל וְהַתְּשׁוּבָה גּוֹרֶמֶת לוֹ לַחֲטוֹא – "אֵין מַסְפִּיקִין וְכוּ'".

and even then, he is not granted an opportunity.

וְאַף גַּם זֹאת "אֵין מַסְפִּיקִין" דַּיְיקָא,

However, if he pressed forcefully and overpowered his evil impulse and did repent,

אֲבָל אִם דָּחַק וְנִתְחַזֵּק וְנִתְגַּבֵּר עַל יִצְרוֹ וְעָשָׂה תְּשׁוּבָה –

then his repentance is accepted.

מְקַבְּלִין תְּשׁוּבָתוֹ.

This all applies to a situation where a person indeed says, “I shall sin and [later] repent.”

However, we, who plead daily, “Forgive us,”

אֲבָל אָנוּ שֶׁמְּבַקְשִׁים בְּכָל יוֹם: "סְלַח לָנוּ" –

preface that prayer by saying, “Bring us back with a perfect repentance before you,”

אָנוּ מַקְדִּימִין לְבַקֵּשׁ: "וְהַחֲזִירֵנוּ בִּתְשׁוּבָה שְׁלֵימָה לְפָנֶיךָ",

so that we revert no more to folly and sin no more.

דְּהַיְינוּ שֶׁלֹּא נָשׁוּב עוֹד לְכִסְלָה,

On Yom Kippur, too, we ask, “May it be Your will that I sin no more.”

וְכֵן בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים מְבַקְשִׁים: "יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ שֶׁלֹּא אֶחֱטָא עוֹד" –

Hence, since one does not rely on one’s ability to repent later:

Opportunity is abundantly granted [for repentance].

מַסְפִּיקִין וּמַסְפִּיקִין,

As our Sages teach: “Whoever comes to purify himself [of his sin] is given assistance.”19

כְּמַאֲמַר רַבּוֹתֵינוּ־זִכְרוֹנָם־לִבְרָכָה: "הַבָּא לִטַּהֵר מְסַיְּיעִין אוֹתוֹ" –

The expression “whoever comes” [indicates that he is granted assistance] as soon as he comes,

"הַבָּא" דַיְיקָא, מִיָּד שֶׁבָּא.

and the pardon and forgiveness are thus also granted forthwith.

וְאֵי לָזֹאת, גַּם הַסְּלִיחָה וְהַמְּחִילָה הִיא מִיָּד.