Section:  Avodah   Category: Shmoneh Esrei
Part 8 Shmoneh Esrei: Selach Lanu - We Are Lucky To Be Demoted

During the bracha of 'selach lanu', one should have in mind to regret one's sins and transgressions. And he should accept as just (l'hatzdik) the judgment of Hashem on all that He will afflict him. Because there is no man without afflictions. But, he does not attribute the afflictions as punishment, rather as 'chance'.

 'In our many sins', when a person sins once or twice, he is still in the category of 'ben' (son) to HaKadosh Baruch Hu. But when he sins often, then if he were in the category of 'ben' (son), he would be judged as a Ben "Sorer U'Moreh" 'wayward son', who is warned once or twice and afterwards stoned in Beis Din (this is a hypothetical case in the torah which never actually happened). So out of mercy, Hashem demotes us from the category of 'ben' (son) to the category of 'eved' (slave). When a slave does not listen to his master, it is not a capital crime rather he is imprisoned in iron chains and the like. And this is what has happened to us, 'in our many sins'.

And it is known that one who repeats a sin 2 or 3 times is called a 'poshea'. This is the intent of the words:'selach lanu avinu (our father) ki chatanu', because then we are still in the category of 'son' to a father. And the words :'u'machal lanu Malkenu (our King) ki pashanu'. Because then we are demoted to the level of 'slaves' and He is our King and Master not our Father.
There is also a difference between 'slicha' and 'mechila'. Slicha is total forgiveness, whereas mechila requires afflictions (yisurim). Therefore in this bracha one should cry tears like a river to Hashem that He should increase forgiveness and He should clean away the sins without harsh afflictions in order that there should not be any bitul torah and tefila.

This is a short, practical version of Ya'aros Devash 1:1 which Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe zt"l condensed in Alei Shur pg.123. The original contains all kinds of fascinating mystical insights. The interested reader is referred to Ya'aros Devash 1:1, starting about half-way through.