Rabbi Granofsky - Teshuvah
Rav Itzele Blazer, the prime talmid of Rav Yisrael Salanter explains a famous Rambam.
The Rambam in Hilchos Teshuva, Chapter 3, says: A person who has more merits than sins is a Tzaddik, more sins than merits is a Rasha. On Rosh Hashana everyone is judged, Tzadikim are inscribed for life and Reshoim are inscribed for death. The in-betweeners-- the BEINONIM-- await judgment until Yom Kippur. The Rambam changes the simple understanding of the Gemara. The Gemara says if they do good they are sealed for life. The Rambam says if they do Teshuva they are sealed for life on Yom Kippur.
Rav Itzele asked, if the Benoni is exactly in-between he should have to do one more mitzvah to be sealed for life on Yom Kippur. Other Rishonim understand the Gemara differently. But according to the Rambam, it seems just the amount of merits or sins makes the person, Why does the Rambam specify Teshuva?
He proves the concept of Lefum Tzara Agara--the greater the effort the greater reward. This is true in a positive way. If it is harder to do a mitzvah the reward is greater. But it is also true in a negative way. If it is easier to do a mitzvah and one does not do it, he is more accountable. There are many proofs to this. The final example he gives is a story of Rav. (Yoma 87) Rav was once insulted by the butcher in Sura. On Erev Yom Kippur he stood outside the butcher shop to give the butcher a chance to ask for forgiveness. Rav Huna saw Rav and said to him, you are killing the butcher. At a certain point, a heavy meat cleaver fell on the butcher and killed him. Rav Itzele explains the story. Rav wanted to make it easy for the man to ask for forgiveness. Rav Huna knew the butcher and understood he would not ask. When he told Rav you are killing him. He meant, by making it so easy for the butcher to ask if he wouldn't- he will become more guilty. And that is what happened.
During these days of Elul and Aseres Yemei Teshuva Hashem is making it so easy to connect to Him and do Teshuva, if we don't take advantage of this time, we are guilty. That is why the Rambam says the criterion for winning on the Aseres Yemei Teshuva is only doing teshuva. If we don't take advantage of this great opportunity we must suffer the consequences.
As we approach these awesome days, by doing Teshuva we will be inscribed for good. This is our chance to use this special gift from Hashem and try to improve our relationship with Him and His Torah.
Everyone should be inscribed for a Shana Tova Umetuka.