"Certain sages go so far as to include repentance among the entities created before the world itself.
The implications of this remarkable statement is that repentance is a universal, primordial phenomenon.
In such a context it has two meanings.
One is that it is embedded in the root structure of the world.
The other, that before man was created, he was given the possibility of changing the course of his life.
In this latter sense repentance is the highest expression of man's capacity to choose freely -- it is a manifestation of the divine in man.
Man can extricate himself from the binding web of his life, from the chain of causality that otherwise compels him to follow a path of no return."
From "Repentence" in The Thirteen Petalled Rose by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz