There was once a chaplain who visited a jail to deliver a sermon to the inmates. While ascending the podium to speak, he tripped and fell flat on his face. The room erupted in laughter. He picked himself up and went over to the podium and said, “I have just concluded my sermon; the moral is that even when a person falls flat on his face, he can rise up again.”

"שובה ישראל עד ה' אלקיך כי כשלת בעונך קחו עמכם דברים ושובו אל ה'"
“Return, O Israel to Hashem, your G‑d, for you have stumbled through your iniquity. Take words with you and return to Hashem.”

QUESTION: Why in the first pasuk does Hoshea say ad Hashem,” while in the following pasuk he says el Hashem” — “to Hashem”?

ANSWER: A person’s sin can be either bein adam laMakom — between man and Hashem — or bein adam lachaveiro — between man and his fellow. In both cases the person must strive for forgiveness. However, for sins of the first nature one must repent, pray and supplicate Hashem. For the latter, forgiveness is accomplished by appeasing the person wronged.

The Mishnah (Yoma 85b) says, “Sins between man and G‑d, Yom Kippur atones; but sins between man and his fellow, Yom Kippur does not atone until he appeases his fellow.” Carefully analyzing the wording of the Mishnah, commentaries suggest that the Mishnah is teaching that if one committed both categories of sins, Yom Kippur will not atone the sins between man and Hashem, unless the sinner first appeases his fellow for the iniquity committed against him. (See Rif to Ayin Yaakov, Birkei Yosef 606 and Mateh Efraim).

In fact, every time a person commits a sin against his fellow he is simultaneously committing a sin against Hashem, and Hashem does not forgive his part until man forgives his (see Pri Chadash to Orach Chaim 606).

The word “ad” (עד) sometimes means “before.” As we say in the daily morning prayers, “Atah hu ad shelo nivra ha’olam — “You were [the same] before the world was created.” Consequently, the prophet’s message can be explained as follows:

Shuvah Yisrael” — “O Israel do Teshuvah — repent among yourselves, ad — before — i.e. prior to repenting for what you did wrong to Hashem your G‑d.

“Kechu imachem devarim — “take words among you” — the way to deal with sins committed among yourselves, is by approaching your fellow with soothing words and begging his forgiveness. [Afterward] “veshuvu el Hashem” — “return — i.e. repent — to Hashem” for the sins committed against Him.

(ספר אמרי יאי מר' בן ציון ז"ל אייזענשטאדט)