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The Rambam in the Laws of Teshuvah, Chapter 2 Law 6 states:

אע"פ שהתשובה והצעקה יפה לעולם, בעשרה הימים שבין ראש השנה ויום הכפורים היא יפה ביותר ומתקבלת היא מיד שנאמר (ישעיהו נה:ו) דרשו ה' בהמצאו קראהו בהיותו קרוב... רמב"ם הלכות תשובה ב:ו

Even though repentance and calling out [to God] are desirable at all times, during the days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, they are even more desirable and will be accepted immediately as it states [Isaiah 55:6]: ‘Seek God when He is to be found’...

Why is it that our Teshuvah and calling out will be accepted immediately? What is it about this time that has that affect? It is not as if Hashem changes, he being perfect does not change. So what is different?

Also, why is it only מתקבלת, accepted? Why not נענים, answered (like by a ציבור, see end of Halacha)?

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Just a guess, perhaps "immediately" does not mean literally, but that Yom Kippur is so close that the Rambam calls it immediately. Compare Yoma 86a –  HodofHod Sep 11 '12 at 4:59

2 Answers 2

I have heard that everything that happened in previous generations affected the future generations. The month of Elul and the Aseres Yemei Teshuva were the time when Moshe Rabbeinu was up in heaven pleading for Klal Yisroel after the sin of the Egel. On Yom Kippur Hashem said Salachti Kidvorecho. These days have remained as days when Teshuva is accepted quickly for that reason.

Radak explains that prior to the end of judgement is a time one can still save themselves. Being that during the Aseres Yemei Teshuva we are still in judgement, that is an opportune time to do Teshuva, which will be accepted.

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Hmm. Thank you. Based on this approach, why is it only during Eseret Yemei Hateshuvah, it should equally be so during the Month of Elul? Furthermore, how is it that because Moshe prayed on our behalf, this time should have a greater acceptance? It can't change Hashem, so how does it impact us? –  RCW Sep 12 '12 at 2:46

Besides being a set historical time of mercy, it is also a time when we work harder on returning. This is an essential part of the Ten Days. As the Shaarei Teshuvah states on Gate 2, Chapter 14:

In the Ten Days of Repentance the heart of one who fears the word of God will tremble within him in the knowledge that all his deeds are being inscribed in a book and that during that period God brings into judgment every deed concerning every hidden thing, whether good or evil. For a man is judged on Rosh Hashanah and his judgement is sealed on Yom Kippur. If a man knows that his judgement is being brought before a king of flesh and blood, will he not be seized with a great trembling and take counsel with himself and, with all manner of diligence, hasten to his defense? It will never occur to him to turn to the right or to the left and to occupy himself with the plowing and the harrowing of his ground and he will not turn to the path of the vineyards ...

The Torah instructs us to cleanse ourselves before the Lord through repentance so that he might grant us atonement on this day and cause us to be pure.

Thus, part of the effectiveness is our sincere, intensified effort.

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