You shall be wholehearted with Hashem your G-d. (Devarim 18:13)
The Dubno Maggid explains the art of attaching two different kinds of items. Sometimes you have two flat pieces of wood that you want to attach together, which is done with relative ease: Just put glue on both sides and press. However, sometimes you are forced to glue things together that are broken, which look like a puzzle and it is a real challenge to glue the pieces together in a way that it will look like one whole item.
Rav Chaim Shmulevitz tells us that sometimes someone can tell you a beautiful devar Torah and only after you hear it do you then realize that the verse is truly alluding to that idea. However, we much more enjoy a devar Torah of simple pshat that does not take such brainpower to understand. People do something and then afterwards try to explain and legitimize that which they did. Often they find sources in Chazal and in the Torah, to support their actions. There are other people who are, based on their actions, a simple walking “Kiddush Hashem”, without any explanation needed. Hence, the above verse tells us that it is not enough to connect ourselves to Hashem like a puzzle, even though that too is being connected to Hashem. We should strive to be connected in a “tamim” – simple way.
As Chodesh Elul sets in and people start reviewing their actions and attitudes, there are many times that they come across something that they did, or a position that they have had, which they need to justify. We should instead be striving to act and think in a way which doesn’t need a restroactive explanation.
Many times a child will do something and the parent will take him to task for that which he did, and the child says, “Let me explain…”. The parent responds, “I don’t want an explanation – just don’t do it again”.
This is the kind of teshuva that Hashem is looking for: That we change our ways instead of justifying our old habits.
In fact, if one would look in the dictionary, there are many definitions of the word “justify”. One of them is that one sets a line straight (as in “justified text” in a Word document). As we prepare for the teshuvah mission we are on over the next forty days, we should not be simply looking to “justify” our actions, we should instead be looking to change – to become the pashut pshat: A simple Jew whose actions naturally conform to the Will of Hashem.