It is customary to read the Selichot (atonement) in the Siddur before Rosh HaShana and to ask for forgiveness for all the mistakes and sins that we committed in the previous year. A person usually asks for forgiveness if he has done something wrong to someone, not in order to correct evil. But the Selichot are the revelation of the recognition of evil that was caused intentionally or unintentionally by us.
We all know that even in court asking for forgiveness or an apology from one side to the other is taken into account. Sometimes the court decides that the offender should apologize to the offended and if he forgives the offender the sentence is mitigated.
This means that asking for forgiveness is already a correction since a person admits that he has caused harm. Although he has not corrected it yet, he already commits himself to correcting it. Asking for forgiveness is the first step of the correction, so we have to value it and to take it into account.
We say Selichot at the end of the year, at the end of a cycle, at the end of a spiritual level. We complete the spiritual level in a good state since the Torah always speaks about an ascent but at the same time we reach destruction. At the end of the year there is the Ninth of Av together with all the troubles associated with it: the destruction of the First and the Second Temples and more. Then there is the time of the Selichot in which we discover the outcomes of the shattering and realize how shattered, lowly, and loathsome we are, and then we ask for forgiveness.
Interestingly, the month in which we cry and ask for forgiveness brokenheartedly because of the recognition of evil is called “Elul,” which is the Hebrew acronym for “I am my beloved and my beloved is mine.”
But if I realize that I am evil, it is the Creator’s fault because He created my evil inclination. So why should I ask His forgiveness for that.
It turns out that the desired outcome of our work, of the new level we have acquired, is the revelation of the evil inclination in us. We discover the evil in us and attribute it to ourselves, realizing that it is inside us and we want to get rid of it. Otherwise, it isn’t called the recognition of evil.
If a person feels the evil in his ego (his desire to receive) he immediately wants to get rid of it. If I regret my actions I thus commit myself to getting rid of the attributes in me, but, in the meantime, I don’t know how to do that. In the meantime, I cannot do it since I lack the power and the understanding to do so. But I realize that it is bad, which means that I determine my state.
It is about the connection between us because the whole correction begins with that. This means that all the evil is revealed in contrast to the unity, which we don’t want, reject, and try to escape in every way we can. This is the whole evil; this is our evil inclination.
Of course, the evil inclination was given to us from Above by the Creator. We don’t cry over the fact that it is part of us but over the fact that we don’t want to get rid of it! We cry because we identify with the ego and are ready to stay in it forever! We don’t regret the evil but the fact that we agree to live in it.
We should direct all our complaints to the Creator, “go to the craftsman who made me.” And what is my own sin? Is it my fault that I haven’t worked enough with the means that He gave me in order to be free of this sin? This is what I cry about, about my helplessness and about my reluctance to be free of my ego.
We cry about our inability to get out of our ego and ask the Creator to help us, realizing our weakness with regard to the evil inclination that is revealed.
From the 3rd part of the Daily Kabbalah Lesson 9.7.14, The Zohar