Is praying for forgiveness like a Yom Kippur?

With regard to repeated sins: at any time, a person can sincerely repent for a past sin, which may have been committed multiple times, and resolve not to repeat it again in the future.


Moses descending from Mount Sinai with the Second Tablets on Yom Kippur

(See the book chapter cited below for important details!) When the person repents, if he feels true remorse, shame and bitterness in his heart because of the sin that was committed, and he is repulsed by the thought of ever committing that sin again, then surely that is a sincere repentance that will be accepted by G-d. However, if at some later time the person encounters that temptation again, he may face the same struggle with his evil inclination all over again. Hopefully, with the strength gained from his previous repentance and his increased understanding of the importance of not sinning, he will be able to overcome the challenge. But if he weakens and succumbs to his evil inclination (which is extremely crafty and knows the best way to trick or entice the person), he must as soon as possible come back to his senses and sincerely repent for the sin that was done again. One should not think that he will not then be forgiven again, because unlike a human being, G-d’s attributes are infinite, including His attribute of forgiveness for the person who is sincerely penitent. A cornerstone of one’s trust in G-d is the trust that He always accepts sincere repentance. But the goal of course is that from the outset, one should not sin.

For an excellent resource, carefully read the chapter on “Repentance” in the book “The Divine Code” by Rabbi Moshe Weiner. A few Biblical references are included there, and the practical rules that are listed on how to repent are taken primarily from the “Mishneh Torah” by Maimonides (Rambam), in the section “Laws of Repentance.”

Another important point is that during the normal course of his daily routine, one must not fall into the mistake of dwelling on his bitterness and remorse over sins, because that is a trick of the evil inclination to bring a person to fall spiritually and begin to sin. One must always remember the obligation to “serve G-d with happiness” (Psalm 100), and this applies during all your daily activities, since you must “know G-d in all your ways.” Therefore, special and limited times should be set aside, in quiet privacy, for one to turn his thoughts to his past sin and allow himself to concentrate on his remorse and bitterness, and confess the sin to G-d and plead for forgiveness. The best time for this is at night, before going to bed. Once this has been achieved, one should experience relief and thankfulness to G-d, and go on to serve G-d happily. One should especially thoroughly understand and take to heart Psalm 51, and it is strongly suggested to recite this Psalm after one’s prayers of repentance in the evening.

With regard to Yom Kippur, which relates to the relationship between the Jews and G-d, Gentiles should not be concerned that they are lacking in any way in their opportunity at any time for successful repentance. The fact that only Jews were given Yom Kippur, the day that Moses descended from Mount Sinai with the second set of Tablets of the Ten Commandments, should only be a positive influence, in that perhaps it may inspire a Gentile to do his or her own needed repentance on any day of the year.

For deeper spiritual insights into the concept of repentance, please read our web page about the Covenant of the Rainbow.