Let My People Know

"The ability to promise sincerely"

One year, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev was unable to lead the prayers on Yom Kippur. 

The Hasidim pleaded with him but to no avail. 

"Last year,” he told them, "I promised God that I would do complete teshuvah ("repentance" or "return"). And look, the year passed by and I still haven't repented. How can I possibly lead the prayers again?" 

Finally, his son spoke to him: 

"Father, last year it wasn't true, but this time it will be!" 

And hearing those words, the tzaddik took heart and began the prayers. 

Last year's truth could not stand the endurance test, but that does not mean it was untrue, only that now it has to improve. 

The individual knows that he did not fulfill last year's promise, that the teshuvah he did then is far from the truth of who he is now.
But that does not contradict his ability now to promise sincerely.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
In Learning from the Tanya by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz