עֲשֶׂרֶת יְמֵי תְּשׁוּבָה

a-se-ret y’mei t’shu-vah

Aseret Yemei Teshuvah, translated as the “Ten Days of Repentance” or the “Ten Days of Return,” are also known as Yamim Nora’im (“Days of Awe”).  They are the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, in which we take time to make teshuvah (“repentance”) by examining ourselves and our actions from the previous year, and by repenting to both God and our fellow before the arrival of Yom Kippur.  This is a time-period in which we have an opportunity for change, and this opportunity is open to everyone.  During this ten-day period, repentance, prayer, and good deeds (such as charity) are customary.

  • Part of the repentance (teshuvah) process is feeling regret and resolving to make a change.  This time of repentance includes seeking forgiveness and reconciliation with those whom we may have wronged during the past year, and, if possible, repairing those wrongs.
  • Prayer (tefillah) is an important part of self-examination and soul-searching; a means by which we change our character.
  • When we do good deeds, including charity (tzedakah), we look beyond ourselves and take note of the needs of others.  It is a time to ask ourselves: What can we do to help those who need us?  Where are we spending our time, money, and energy?

By these actions, we are making a change, improving ourselves, and building a foundation for the coming year.

This time period is when God presides over His Heavenly Courtroom.  The opening of the trial commences on Rosh Hashanah and extends until Yom Kippur.  The Ten Days of Repentance play a vital role in the outcome of that trial.

The Shabbat which falls during the Ten Days of Repentance is called Shabbat Shuvah (“Sabbath of Return”).  The name is derived from the special Haftarah (Prophets) reading in Hosea 14:2–10 which begins with Shuvah Yisrael (“Return O Israel”).  This Shabbat is also called Shabbat Teshuvah (“Shabbat of Repentance”) as it falls during the Ten Days of Repentance.  True repentance completely transforms past sins, turning them into good merit; bitter regret is transformed into a joyous outlook of the future.  Even though repentance involves remorse due to sin, it also brings gladness in our return to God.

The Ten Days of Repentance begin the evening of September 20th this year and are observed until the end of Yom Kippur (Tishrei 1–10 on the Hebrew calendar).