This subject, harbouring contrary emotions simultaneously in the heart, humility — the state of teshuvah tata'a as explained, and gladness as well, has already been discussed in Likutei Amarim, end of ch. 34. It has been illuminated by the Zohar, "Joy is lodged in one side of my heart..." Joined to this is the faith and confidence, the heart being firm and certain in G‑d that He desires goodness, and is gracious and merciful and generously forgiving the instant one pleads for forgiveness and atonement of Him. ("According to Your great mercies wipe away my sins; lave me, purify me, wipe away all my sins...") Not the faintest vestige of doubt dilutes this absolute conviction.

For this reason, in every Shemona Esrai, the moment we plead, "Forgive us .. ." we conclude, "Blessed are You, O G‑d, gracious and generous in pardon." Without the certainty of pardon this would be a case of doubtful blessing, which we do not recite lest it be a blessing in vain. But there is no doubt here whatsoever, for we have asked, "Forgive us, pardon us." Furthermore, were we not to repeat our transgressions we would be immediately redeemed, in accordance with the blessing we recite, "Blessed are You, O G‑d, Who redeems Israel."

Even by human standards this certainty of pardon is legitimate. One must forgive as soon as he is asked for pardon. He must not be cruel and vindictive, even when one mutilates another, as we find in Bava Kama end of ch. 8. If one has asked his fellow for forgiveness three times and has been rebuffed, he need not apologise further.

When King David asked the Gibeonites to forgive King Saul who had killed Gibeonites, they refused to pardon him. David decreed that they shall not enter the Congregation of G‑d, who are merciful ... See Yevamot, end of ch. 8. As a divine trait, forgiveness is as swift, and infinitely more so.

The praise and blessing addressed to G‑d, "Gracious and generous in forgiveness," emphasises the word marbeh, "generous," implying multiplicity. This term is used in Ezra, "Generous in pardon." It is characteristic of men, that if one injures another and asks his pardon which is granted, and then repeats the misdeed, it becomes more difficult to grant pardon again, and certainly a third and fourth time.

But by the standard of G‑d, there is no difference between once and a thousand times. Pardon is a manifestation of the attribute of mercy. Divine attributes are not bounded and finite; they are infinite as in the verse, "For His mercies have not ended." In terms of infinity there is no difference whatsoever between a small number and a large one. Before Him all are considered as naught, and He makes equal the small and the great...

Therefore "He removes our sins every year." All the sins confessed in the Al Chet annually, though repeatedly violated, are again confessed on Yom Kippur in the coming year, and so on always. "Every year" is not necessarily a yearly pardon, for three times every day we pronounce, "Blessed are You, O G‑d, gracious and generous in forgiveness."

The Talmud tells us that the prayers were introduced in place of the regular altar offerings. The daily morning offering was to atone for the sins of the previous night, and the regular evening sacrifice atoned for the sins of the past day, and so on day by day constantly. "Every year" means only that Yom Kippur atones for the grave sins, while the regular offerings, the olah, atoned only for violations of positive commands. In our time, worship with repentance replaces offerings, as noted above.

But this is not an attitude of "I will sin and later repent." That is relevant only if while committing the sin he could have overcome his impulse to evil, but depended in his heart on repenting later. Since the opportunity to repent caused him to sin, "He is not granted an opportunity..." Withal he is not granted an opportunity. But if he pressed forcefully and overpowered his evil impulse and did repent, then his repentance is accepted.

But we who plead daily, "Forgive us," preface that prayer with "Bring us back with a perfect repentance before You," that is, that we revert no more to folly. On Yom Kippur too we ask, "May it be Your will that I sin no more." For us opportunity is granted, freely, "Whoever comes to purify himself is given assistance." Whoever comes, as soon as he comes, and the pardon and forgiveness are also granted forthwith.

My sin is before me always," does not imply that one ought constantly be melancholy, humiliated, G‑d forbid, for a following verse declares, "Let me hear gladness and joy... and the free spirit shall uphold me..." He ought all his days experience teshuvah ila'a, which is marked by great joy, as we noted above. "Before me" is the term negdi, as in "Stand mineged" and "Mineged around the Tent of Assembly shall they camp." Rashi defines the term as "at a distance." The intention of our verse is merely that his heart does not become haughty, that he be of humble spirit before all men, for the remembrance is between his eyes that he has sinned before G‑d.

In fact, as far as gladness is concerned, the remembrance will be especially effective in encouraging happiness in the face of whatever misfortunes threaten to overtake him, whether from Heaven or caused by man, whether in speech or in deed. (This constant awareness of one's sins is good counsel to be immune to anger or any sort of resentment...) The Talmud declares, "Those humiliated who do not humiliate in turn, who hear their insult and do not retort, who perform out of love and are happy in affliction..." Whoever passes over his feelings, all his sins are passed over.