The Rambam states1 that although teshuvah , repentance, is always efficacious, it is even more so during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, the 10-day period of repentance that begins with Rosh HaShanah and concludes with Yom Kippur. For the verse states:2 “Seek G‑d when He is readily to be found; call on Him when He is close,” and the Gemara explains3 that this refers to the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, at which time G‑d is “readily available” to all Jews.

We must understand why the Rambam relates this “ready availability” specifically to teshuvah. Seemingly G‑d’s accessibility during these days should have a profound impact on all aspects of a Jew’s service. Why does the Rambam specifically connect it with teshuvah ?

This will be understood by first asking the following question: “Call on Him when He is close,” seems to belabor the point made at the beginning of the verse, “Seek G‑d when He is readily to be found.”

Why the repetition?

The word meaning “when He is readily to be found,” behimatzoi, is akin to metziah, which describes the unexpected finding of an object — something that requires no effort. By using this term, the verse indicates that G‑d is revealed even to one who has expended no spiritual effort and is unworthy of receiving Him — an individual in need of teshuvah.

This then is the special connection between our verse and the Ten Days of Repentance: When a person makes a true reckoning at the beginning of the year of his spiritual status during the previous year, he will realize that he is far from where he should be. This may cause a feeling of hopelessness, so that the person says to himself: “Knowing who I truly am and my true spiritual state, how can I presume to come close to G‑d?”

The verse therefore assures such people that during these days they are to “seek G‑d when He is readily to be found” — for G‑d reveals Himself to every Jew in a manner of a metziah , i.e., He reveals Himself irrespective of one’s past service or degree of preparation.

For at this time, G‑d’s love of the Jewish people is described by the phrase “For Israel is but a lad, and I love him.”4 It is similar to the love of a father for his small child, an essential love that is not dependent on the child’s conduct; even when the child misbehaves the father does not remove his love.5

However, the person may think that while G‑d assists him during this period in a manner of metziah , he himself is still incapable of feeling G‑d’s closeness. For in order to feel G‑d’s closeness a person must prepare himself through his own service.

For as in the analogy of a small child who misbehaves, it would still seem difficult to say that in such a situation the father would reveal his love so that the child actually feels his father drawing close to him.

The verse therefore concludes: “call on Him when He is close.” In addition to the fact that during these days G‑d is readily available and assists all Jews in returning to Him, He is also “close” to each and every Jew whatever his spiritual state; during these days, each one can feel G‑d’s love and closeness.

The Jew, in turn, is expected to respond in a like manner. Rather than serving G‑d as he did in the past, without toil or effort, he begins to actively seek Him; the Jew begins to call upon G‑d in a revealed manner; he is not satisfied that his desire to approach G‑d is merely internal.

Since the portion of Ha’azinu is so often read on Shabbos Shuvah ,6 we are to understand that it also relates to the Ten Days of Teshuvah.

This relationship is as follows:7 On the opening verse of Ha’azinu, the Sifri comments on how Moshe was closer to heaven than to earth. During the Days of Repentance, when G‑d is “readily to be found” and “close,” every Jew has the ability — like Moshe did — to become closer to heaven, and more distant from earthly matters.

Based on Likkutei Sichos , Vol. XXXIV, pp. 200-204.