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In Jewish leap years we add the words

ולכפרת פשע

and atonement for transgressions

to a list of things we ask Hashem for in the coming month during the tefilah of musaf on Rosh Chodesh. We do this through the leap month (Adar II) and then we do not include those words the rest of the year, nor do we say them in non-leap years.

Now atonement for our transgressions is a very nice thing to daven for, but what's the connection to leap years or to Adar II such that we only include it when we do?

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Obviously, if one wants to connect two things, it is always possible if one tries hard enough. However, the reason referenced by the Elya Rabba (OH 603:6) for the insertion, is not due to any connection between the two. Rather it is just because there are 12 expressions of praise, corresponding to the 12 months, and in a leap year we add a 13th corresponding to the extra month.

כתב בשנת עיבור ולכפרת פשע, ושמעתי טעם דיש י"ב לשונות (נגד) לטובה ולברכה וכו' נגד י"ב חדש, לכך אומרים עוד ולכפרת פשע נגד עיבור

(Incidentally, he writes that he was unable to find this reason in the referenced source, and holds himself, that ולכפרת פשע is always said; even in a non-leap-year).

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  • Since there are 12 expressions of praise, corresponding to the 12 months, and in a leap year we add a 13th corresponding to the extra month, this means that THERE IS a connection between the 2. The Gra says that ALL corresponding numbers in judaism are connected. (Every corresponding number on the Echad-mi-Yodea series on this site is connected. – RibbisRabbiAndMore May 17 '18 at 21:31

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