Excerpts From the Teachings of Maran Rabbeinu zt”l During the Month of Elul
During the Mussaf prayer of Rosh Hashanah we recite, “For You remember all that is forgotten.” The sages of the Mussar Movement explain that this refers to one an individual who has sinned and remembers his sin all of his life while feeling remorse for what he has done and beginning Hashem for forgiveness, as the verse states, “And my sin is opposite me always,” Hashem forgets this sin, so-to-speak. Indeed, the Talmud Yerushalmi (Pe’ah, Chapter 1, Halacha 1) that although nothing is forgotten by Hashem, nevertheless, Hashem acts as if He has forgotten about the sins of the Jewish nation, as the verse states, “You have forgiven the iniquity of your people; you have pardoned all their sin, Selah.”
Nevertheless, if one transgresses a sin and remains sinful by not repenting fully and, on the contrary, one does not pay too much attention to one’s sins and one forgets about them completely or if one feels one’s sins are not so terrible and causes himself to forget them, Heaven will then remember all of “that which is forgotten” and one will be punished for this.
This is the meaning of the phrase “For You remember all that is forgotten”-all that is forgotten and not all that is remembered, for sins which one remembers in one’s heart are not remembered in Heaven; however, sins which one forgets about which are “all that is forgotten,” these shall be remembered in Heaven forever.
The same applies to Mitzvot, for if one performs a Mitzvah, such as Tzedakah or kindness, and remembers it and glorifies one’s self with it, this Mitzvah is forgotten in Heaven and one will not be reminded of this Mitzvah in Heaven in order to reap its reward. On the other hand, if one performs a Mitzvah and forgets about it because one is so busy and involved with other Mitzvot and continues to grow in Torah and Mitzvah observance, as the verse states, “I have contemplated my ways and I shall return my feet to your tenets,” one will be reminded by Heaven about the Mitzvah one has performed, for all forgotten matters are remembered and one will be handsomely rewarded for one’s efforts. (See Ma’or Yisrael, Derashot, page 8.)