The Rambam states1 that although teshuvah, repentance, is always efficacious, it is even more so during the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, the ten-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 near,” and the Gemara explains3 that this refers to the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, the time in which G‑d is close and “readily available” to all Jews.

We must understand why the Rambam relates this closeness and “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, not only on teshuvah. Why does the Rambam specifically connect it with teshuvah?

This will be better understood by introducing the following question: “Call on Him when He is near” seems to belabor the point — the verse already states “Seek G‑d when He is readily to be found.” Why the reiteration?

The Hebrew word that means “when He is readily to be found,” behimatzoi, is akin to the word 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 Aseres Yemei Teshuvah: When a person, at the beginning of the year, makes a true reckoning of his spiritual status during the previous year, he will realize that he is far from where and what he should be. This may cause the person to despair and be filled with a sense of hopelessness. He may then say to himself: “Aware as I am of my true spiritual state and who I truly am, how can I presume to come close to G‑d?”

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

For at this time of year, 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 a father’s love for his small child — an essential love that does not depend on the child’s conduct — so that even when the child misbehaves his father continues to love him.5

However, the person may think that though G‑d assists him during this time of year in a manner of a metziah, he himself is still incapable of feeling G‑d’s closeness. To this we tell him: in order to feel G‑d’s closeness, you must prepare yourself through your own service.

For as in the analogy of the small child who misbehaves, it seems difficult to posit that while the child is actually misbehaving the father would reveal his love for him in a way that the child would in fact feel his father drawing closer to him.

The verse therefore concludes: “call on Him when He is near”: 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 “near” to each and every Jew regardless of his spiritual state; during these days, each and every Jew can feel G‑d’s manifest love and closeness to him or her, regardless of his or her conduct.

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 and begins to call upon G‑d in a revealed manner, unsatisfied to merely approach G‑d in a concealed and internal manner.

Since the portion of Haazinuis so often read on Shabbos Teshuvah,6 we understand that Haazinu also relates to the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah.

The relationship between the two is as follows:7 On the opening verse of Haazinu, the Sifri comments that Moshe was closer to heaven than to earth.

During the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, when G‑d is “readily to be found” and “extremely near,” we can all become similar to Moshe — closer to heavenly matters and more distant from earthly matters.

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