In Moshe’s final speech to his people, he lets them know that whatever they do, they always have a stark choice:
רְאֵה אָנכִי נתֵן לִפְנֵיכֶם הַיּוֹם בְּרָכָה וּקְלָלָה – I am giving before you today a blessing and a curse. (11:26)
The Vilna Gaon suggests that this principle reverberates through the ages, and is as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. It is a personal, ever-relevant choice. Anyone, at any time, can choose to do better and be better.
Hashem “is giving” us a choice – in the present tense – נתן.
We can make the choice “today” – הַיּוֹם.
The time is now. Yesterday’s mistakes are today’s opportunities to make it right.
Chazal understand that repentance is like turning over a new leaf; to the extent that someone making amends is considered as innocent as a newborn baby.
Despite the niggling self-doubt in the recesses of our minds at the ability to change, Hashem assures that we are not alone. The choice is presented by the ultimate אָנכִי – “I am with you in the struggle”. God loves and is with us all, whatever mistakes we have made.
R’ Yitzchak Lande points out that the Torah frequently switches between plural and singular, to teach that every single Jew has to participate in building a better society. And if no one else is doing it, we do it anyway.
But God can only present the opportunity – אָנכִי נתֵן לִפְנֵיכֶם. Teshuva is not foreclosed from anyone – God waits until the day we die to make amends if we only take that step.
But only we can take it.