Tonight is Rosh Chodesh Elul. We are about to enter a very important time in the hebrew calendar, a time of closeness and connection to Hashem. Think about how lucky you are to have an opportunity to come back to your Loving Father! He gives you so many chances to come close to Him and show Him that you really want to do the right thing-by thinking about what you have done and how you want to become better.
There's an amazing mashal I want to share with you.
A fox passed a vineyard full of delicious grapes and wanted to eat some of them. However, there was a fence enclosing the vineyard that blocked him from going in. He did notice that there was a small hole in the fence and if he would fast for three days, he would be able to squeeze in and eat the grapes. So that is what he did.
After three days, the fox was skinny enough to make his way through the hole. He feasted and enjoyed all the grapes in the vineyard and when he was ready to leave he realized that he would not be able to get out because he ate too much and gained too much weight! So once again, he fasted for three days and only then was he able to get out of the vineyard.
The fox then realized that he did not gain anything from the vineyard because he left the same way he had gone in. We have to ask ourselves the same question-will we leave the world the same way we went in or will we have things that have true value to take along with us. Elul is a time to ask ourselves these questions - what are we taking with us into the new year? What mitzvos and good deeds do we have to show for ourselves?
Each one of us is put into this world and there are so many temptations and things that look exciting - but we have to remember that we are in this world for a purpose, not just for the materialism and we need to focus on the things that last.
This past shabbos, I heard a continuation of this mashal.
There was a smart fox who watched what the first fox had done and said to himself, "I will not be a fool like this one." And here is what he did. After fasting three days so he could get through the hole in the fence, he ate and enjoyed the grapes. In the meantime, he threw a whole bunch of grapes over the fence so that when he gets out of the vineyard, he will have more grapes to eat. So even though he had to fast to get out, he thought ahead and saved for the future.
The woman who I heard this mashal from gave an interesting twist on the nimshal.
Elul is coming. It's a hard month but it is a very rich month. There is so much to gain from what comes after it-the yomim nora'im, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Succos. Some people are like the first fox and they leave the yomim tovim the same way they came in. The day after yom tov you wouldn't even know that they experienced such awesome days. However, if you want to be like the smart fox, you need to throw the grapes over the fence, you need to prepare properly and think ahead so that you will come out of these days enriched and a better person.
Elul is a very big month. There is so much to gain and so much to achieve. Now that we are entering such a crucial time in our calendar, it is up to us to use our time well and take advantage of the closeness we have with Hashem.
Let's think ahead so that we use each day to the fullest so that when we come out of Elul, we can say that we didn't just eat the grapes but we saved some for later - so that we can take the inspiration we get from Elul and the yomim tovim that come after it and come out a truly changed and better person!