On this basis, we can understand [the verse stated at the outset]: “For forgiveness is Yours, so that You may be feared.”1 Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are called “Days of Awe.” At that time, it is revealed that “Your name is awesome.”

[For this reason, these Days of Awe are given special prominence.] For fear possesses an advantage over love. Love is a complete service. [Moreover,] it follows a sequence: “with all your heart, [with all your soul, and with all your might].” Nevertheless, there is an advantage to fear over love. Love is projected from the one who loves to the beloved. The magnitude of the love depends on the degree of his closeness [to his beloved]. Fear, by contrast, is dependent on the one who is feared; [because of who he is, he causes fear.] It does not depend on the degree of connection he has to the one who fears.2

Based on the above, we can understand the meaning of the phrase: “so that You may be feared.” The implication is that for [the Jews to attain] genuine fear [on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur], it is necessary that “forgiveness be Yours” during these days of Selichos. For You, [G‑d,] are obligated, [as it were,] to forgive.3 For in the spiritual realms, teshuvah is desired, for [G‑d says]: “I have no desire for the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.”4 Thus teshuvah is of primary importance. Nothing can stand in the way of teshuvah.5 Even if one’s spiritual status, Heaven forbid, is lowly and debased and he is considered among those who transgress G‑d’s will, teshuvah is effective [in rectifying his situation]. This is implied by the phrase:4 “that the wicked turn from his way and live,” [i.e., teshuvah is effective even for someone who is wicked].

[Moreover, teshuvah is readily accessible.] In whatever state a person may find himself, he can find something G‑dly with which to arouse his soul. And when a person is aroused to teshuvah, “You [G‑d] are obligated to forgive”; i.e., the attribute of forgiveness is appropriate. For when a servant acknowledges that he transgressed, repents of his sin, confesses his wrongdoing, and desires to pay his debt, “forgiveness is Yours.” [Granting forgiveness] is not dependent on [an intermediary power in Seder Hishtalshelus], but on the infinite G‑dliness that transcends Seder Hishtalshelus, as explained above. This is the intent of the phrase: “forgiveness is Yours.”

And when “You” forgive during the days of Selichos, the result will be “so that You may be feared.” [Forgiving the Jewish people is intended] to lead to genuine Divine service on Rosh HaShanah, [enabling] their internalization of the feeling (derherren in chassidic terminology) that “You are holy and Your name is awesome.”6


The positive dimension of fear is that it is not dependent on the status of the one who fears. [The maamar cites theinterpretation of] “forgiveness is Yours” as meaning “You are obligated to forgive.” There are none who can prevent You. Through [G‑d’s] forgiveness during the days of Selichos, the Jews will attain the fear of G‑d on Rosh HaShanah, with an [internalized] feeling that “Your name is awesome.”