Seemingly, the best and easiest thing would be to say, “Let us all do Teshuvah, let us all be good Jews, just as our forefathers were. “
However, what we really need is to be good Jews in the best way that we can be.
A person can be a tzaddik – a righteous one – or a ba’al teshuvah – a penitent.
A ba’al teshuvah can reach a level that is higher than that of the tzaddik, and can be stronger, firmer, more genuine.
Yet he is different.
I cannot be the way my father, grandfather, or great-grandfather was.
Our forefathers were supremely righteous, and they now dwell on high; I have different problems.
My problem is not how to be like Rabbi so-and-so.
My problem is how, and where, to be my own kind of tzaddik, a tzaddik in a way that pertains to my own self.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz