After receiving the Ten Commandments in Shabu'ot, Moshe Rabbenu stayed in Mount Sinai for forty days. There, God taught him the Oral Torah: the meaning and the ways to perform all the 613 commandments. At the end of the forty days Moshe came down and encountered the people of Israel worshiping the golden calf. At the sight of such terrible offense, Moshe broke the tablets containing the Ten commandments. This happened on the 17th of Tamuz.
A few weeks later, in the beginning of the month of Elul, God told Moshe to ascend once again to Mount Sinai, where he stayed again for forty days. What did Moshe do during those forty days? Since God expressed His intention to erase Am Israel for their deplorable sin, Moshe begged God Almighty to forgive His people, Israel. Moshe argued with God, advocating for the Jewish people, and invoking the merit of their ancestors Abraham, Ytzchaq and Ya'aqob.
At the end of the forty days, and at the insistence of Moshe Rabbenu, God finally absolved the people of Israel. That day, the 10th of Tishri, is Yom Kippur, the day of forgiveness.
In remembrance of those forty days during which Moshe Rabbenu begged God to absolve Israel, we dedicate forty days to ask God for our own forgiveness. During forty days we immerse ourselves in a deep process of introspection, admission, repentance and change called: Teshuba.
This period of spiritual preparation begins tomorrow and ends on Yom Kippur.
Tomorrow morning B'H, Sephardic communities start reciting the Selichot, the prayers that inspire us to reflect on our lives and embark on the process of Teshuba.
Click here to get in the mood of Selichot