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Hashem promised to be both a father and mother to the Jewish nation. Both parents love the child, however the difference between them is that a father will play with the child, as long he is clean. Once the child soils himself, the father returns the child to the mother, exclaiming, “Here, take your child!” After the mother lovingly cleans the child, the father will take the child again. If Hashem acted only as father, teshuva would not be possible. It is the maternal aspect of Hashem, shechinah, which allows us to return completely, despite all our defilements and imperfections, and cleanse all of our sins away. The 13 attributes, the formula for teshuva that sustains us to this day as the am ha’Nivchar, and is the core of the month of Elul, was the result of Moshe’s third prayer.

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