Parshas Netzavim: Now’s time to prepare for new year

This article was printed in the Cleveland Jewish News.

We are now just a few days shy of Rosh Hashanah. This is the season when the prophet teaches us to “seek out Hashem when he is close.” This is referring to the month of Elul, proceeding the holiday season. While G-d is always available for us to improve our relationship with Him, during this season it a local call.

Leading up to and over the High Holy Days, many try to be on their best behavior. There are even customs to be more stringent in areas of Jewish law during the 10 Days of Returning that connect Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur. The question is why? This is the omniscient G-d that we are dealing with. He knows if we have be naughty or nice (I couldn’t resist) He can see that we are doing something “just to be on our best behavior,” and if we are not going to stick with it. So, how does this help us to receive a favorable judgment on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur?

Allow me to answer by way of parable. A man received a message one day that the president was coming to his home for a visit. The man was ecstatic! Quickly, he went home to tell his wife the good news. “We need to paint, and clean the carpets, and polish the floors, and mow the lawn, and change the burnt out light bulbs, and get a new couch ….” he said as fast as he could get the words out.

As he began his long list of preparations, the wise woman said to her diligent husband, “who do you think you are fooling over here? The president knows we don’t live like this? He knows that you are doing all of this just to impress him.” The husband responded to his beloved wife, “Do you really think the president is coming to see how we live? No, he’s coming to see how we receive him.”

Our father in Heaven is here. How are we receiving him? Are we showing him that we want to improve our relationship? Are we growing? Are we trying? Let us make that push when it’s easy, and it will help us all to grow in the coming year and to have an amazing 5776.