Breaking down the Yamim Nora'im

Breaking Down the Ten Days of Teshuvah

The time between the First Day of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur has particular spiritual weight. Indeed, while we’ve been engaging in the process of teshuvah throughout the month of Elul, it’s this week and a half that are known as the Ten Days of Teshuvah, providing us an opportunity to dig harder and go deeper into the spiritual work of the season while the gates are open. The Shabbat during this period has additional weight as well; it is known as Shabbat Shuvah (the Shabbat of return) or Shabbat Teshuvah (the Shabbat devoted to repentance).

Where does this idea come from? We read that when the Prophet Isaiah tells the Jewish people to repent for their sins, he says, “Seek God when God may be found; call God when God is close.” The Rabbis teach that this verse refers to these ten days: a time when God is especially close to us, when the gates of heaven are open, and when God will listen more intently.

You might notice some changes to our daily liturgy during these days, as well. Prayer services during these days include additional language about the concept of God as king, insertions of Avinu Malkeinu, and special Selihot are added before Shaharit starts at BJ’s morning minyan.