These Ten Days of Repentance, “the Aseret Y’mei Teshuvah” that we currently find ourselves, is probably the most unique time in our calendar. The verse in Isaiah reads, “Seek G-d when he may be found”, and our Rabbis explain that this verse refers to these ten days. During this period, G-d makes Himself extremely accessible to us, even more that the rest of the year. In Judaism, communal prayer is always more praiseworthy than individual prayer. However, during these days an individual’s prayer carries the same weight as communal prayer. We also recite the special Avinu Malkenu prayer twice daily (except on Shabbat).
Our Holy Books give many ideas on how a person should work to improve themselves in the days before Yom Kippur. One idea is to go above and beyond in our observance of Mitzvot compared to the rest of the year. Especially in observing this Shabbat, to do so in an even more beautiful way that usual. And of course, While Yom Kippur atones for sins committed against G-d, it does not atone for sins against our fellow man. Everyone must make an effort to apologize and ask forgiveness from anyone we might have slighted during the year, whether financially, verbally, or emotionally.
Some have a custom this Shabbat to light (in addition to the regular Shabbat Candles) a special twenty-four hour candle, called a “Teshuvah Licht”, a Repentance Light. Presumably to remind us of the special opportunity G-d is granting us this Shabbat. I encourage everyone to utilize these days to come ever closer to G-d and his Torah, and to kindle our own Teshuvah Licht in our souls.