Answer: The word “Selichot “already means that we have to ask for forgiveness during this time, for the sins and transgressions we have committed. But what does it mean?
If we keep this commandment, we reach the love of the Creator. This is the whole goal of life and of humanity, a goal thanks to which we rise above this world until the level of the upper force. A person has to attain all that in his lifetime in this world, in our ordinary reality.
A person corrects himself consistently until he begins to love others like himself, and from the love of the created beings he reaches the love of the Creator. This love is called bestowal, giving. If I ascend above my ego and connect to others, I can do everything for their sake.
On the other hand, if I remain in my egoistic nature, it will never allow me to perform any altruistic acts, no matter how hard I try. It is impossible to imagine that I will suddenly love someone else and will be ready to give him everything that I have as if he were my own baby.
Our ego hinders and confuses us, diverting us from the direction of bestowal, leading us in the opposite direction, opposite to unity, connection, and bestowal unto others. At the same time, the world is forced to become increasingly more integral and so we witness more and more problems as our life becomes more and more difficult.
Nature on the whole: the world of still, vegetative, and animate nature are drawn to integral unity. Nature pushes us towards unity, but we don’t want it. We are like children locked up in a room constantly fighting with each other.
This is how the world advances towards the recognition of evil, of its egoistic nature, that doesn’t let us reach the goal of creation the Torah tells us about: unity, connection, and love.
The Torah tells us about the major law of the existence of the world since the general nature that surrounds our world is based on love and bestowal. It is opposite from what happens with us here on this planet in this closed sphere.
When the nation of Israel received the Torah at Mount Sinai, they accepted the condition that they will always focus their forces on attaining love of others. This is the major law of the Torah, and by keeping it we advance together with all of nature towards one goal.
But because our nature is opposite from this love, we need help from Above. We need the Light that Reforms. If we ask for help, we invoke the force that corrects our nature and helps us build the right connections between us.
A person was initially created with an egoistic nature and doesn’t accept unity and love of others, but at the same time, there is a means of correcting this ego, which is the Torah, the Light that Reforms.
In other words, there is a special force called the upper world, which influences a person and changes his nature into the opposite nature, which means that it reforms him and changes his nature from evil to goodness by correcting his evil inclination into a good inclination.
So the goal is clear: We have to reach the fulfillment of the law of love thy friend as thyself and by that reach the love of the Creator. This is the general trend of all of nature. But we will not be able to be incorporated in the right direction and advance in the right velocity towards correction if we don’t demand the Light that Reforms and don’t use the Creator the way we should. So we have to examine ourselves in order to understand what is happening to us.
Then we discover that we aren’t advancing along the right path. Every step along the path of correction is called a Mitzvah (commandment), which means the fulfillment of the instruction “love thy friend as thyself.” This whole path towards love is divided into 613 steps, 613 actions called Mitzvot.
This means that we have to keep correcting ourselves consistently, until we reach the love of others. Correcting ourselves by 612 actions we reach the 613th Mitzvah, which is love.
Therefore, before Rosh HaShanah we say Selichot. During this time we examine ourselves: “What did we do during the last year; how close have we gotten to love of others, to the connection of the whole nation of Israel?”
Here we see that we haven’t done anything, and even if we have, it was very little. This is what we ask forgiveness for! We must examine our actions in order to see to what extent they are opposite from the right direction and accordingly acknowledge our mistakes and transgressions in the states we have undergone. This is where the forgiveness arrives.
From KabTV’s “Selichot” 8/17/15