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During these awe-inspired days, we rise early to greet the morning with Slichos. Indeed, at FTI, the cry of the יג מידות, the 13 Attributes of Hashem, which are the centerpiece of the Slichos, reverberate throughout the בית המדרש. The 13 character traits of Hashem are proclaimed repeatedly, deliberately, and in unison.
The weight and importance given to the 13 attributes begs the question – What is the significance of these 13 Middos?
The Gemara, Rosh Hashana 17B, explains that the source for proclaiming the 13 qualities of Hashem stems from Hashem Himself! The Gemara relates, that after the sin of the Golden Calf, Moshe Rabbeinu advocated that Hashem should absolve Klal Yisrael from their terrible sin. Consequently, Hashem showed Moshe with a vision of the Omnipresent wrapped in a tallis, proclaiming the 13 Middos, thus teaching Moshe that this is a vital tool in procuring forgiveness. Likewise, Chazal established the 13 Middos as a potent tool with which we may implore our Creator for forgiveness.
Additionally, the 13 Middos are actually our mission statement in life as well; to become as G-d-like as our human limitations allow. As the Pasuk states “והלכת בדרכיו”, you shall walk in the ways of Hashem. I would like to suggest, that the next time we find ourselves saying the 13 Middos, we should reflect on the splendor of these phenomena. We, as a whole, are reaffirming and declaring our true calling – to become just like Hashem.