Sometimes the hardest questions have the easiest answers, but this question is stumping me. We know that throughout Elul and the Ten Days of Repentance we are supposed to do Teshuva, i.e. regret our past sins, leave them behind and accept not to do them again. Yet, our leaders and advisors suggest we make one small Kabalah, acceptance of change in one area of our lives, for the upcoming year. This seemingly minimal effort would seem to go against the whole idea of Teshuva and our confession of our sins, which implies a complete transformation of who we are and how we serve HaShem.
The beginning of this week’s parasha may shed light on this enigma. The Torah instructs us to appoint judges who will judge משפט צדק, literally translated as righteous judgment. Why does the Torah deem it necessary to refer to justice as righteous? Would we even contemplate employing corrupt judges? The Ramban (Bereishis 6:9) writes that that the term צדיק refers to one who is צדיק בדינו, righteous in his judgment, i.e. in the current situation he is righteous. Perhaps the Torah is teaching us regarding the appointment of judges and regarding the way we judge ourselves that we should accept the judge for who he is now without being concerned that later he will become corrupt through bribes or other motives. Similarly, our leaders advise us to accept one small change right now, which will earn us the title צדיק בדינו. Once we have achieved success in one area, we can hope for achievement in other areas of our lives, allowing us to gain full repentance and subsequent atonement from HaShem.
Have a Wonderful and Successful Shabbos!