I got a ticket.
For an expired meter.
I was frustrated and upset.
I rushed out of a store after waiting on line for way too long and saw the two police officers...slowly walking away from my car. There was the familiar orange color of the ticket tucked into my windshield. I ran.
I ran after them.
I begged and pleaded with them to please take the ticket back, do something, anything so I wouldn't have to pay the money.
"Buy a new one," one of the police officers said. "There's nothing I can do, but quick, buy a new meter card and I'll explain..."
"But..." I stammered
"Just buy it-if there are six minutes between the time on the ticket and the time on your new meter card, you..."
I didn't listen to the rest.
I got a quarter, quickly put it into the machine and checked the time. It said 2:13pm.
I grabbed the orange ticket and compared the time. I was "caught" at 2:09pm. My new meter card showed four minutes after the time the ticket was issued.
I waited for the policeman to explain the rest, while trying to calm my pounding heart.
"Now you have a way out," he explained. "Since there are less than six minutes between the time you were ticketed and the time on your new card, you can now fight the ticket. There is a six minute grace period...and you can say that you were in middle of getting a new card and you had to get quarters from your car and during that time you got a ticket."
I'm not sure about the lying part and making up a story, but if there is a way for me to get out...if the judge will give me six minutes of time...I will not have to pay this ticket. I am grateful.
Rosh Hashana is almost here.
We feel so unprepared.
What?? Elul passed already?
It's been almost 30 days...what do we have to show for ourselves?
But Hashem is a Ba'al Rachamim.
He is not out to get us. He doesn't want us to trip...to fall...to have to pay for our mistakes, for our negligence, for our lateness.
And so we were give the gift of Teshuva. And the gift of time. And more time.
When we repent, show real, true regret for the things we may have done wrong, the good things we should have done but never did, the lost opportunities, the mistakes we made, Hashem listens.
He is aware of the circumstances that may have caused us to fall. And unlike the police officers who didn't care about the long line that caused me to be delayed by a few minutes, Hashem understands and takes all those "excuses" into account.
When we are sincere about the kind of person we wish to become, Hashem hears.
When we ask Him to help us change, because it is just too hard for us to do it alone, Hashem listens...and He will help us.
But more than that, Hashem blessed us with time...and more time.
Yes, the meter is running out, but we can "buy another card." After Rosh Hashana, we are given ten days, the aseres yimei teshuva and after that we have Yom Kippur.
Look at how much rachmanus Hashem has!
He keeps giving us more and more time to do teshuva and come closer to Him!
That is not to say that we should push it off to the last minute (even though the last minute is almost here!). We should utilize the time we have now to think. Think about the past year...and the coming year...and the brachos we would like to see in our lives...and the changes we would like to see in ourselves...and start now.
We may feel discouraged by the fact that so much time has passed and we haven't even made a dent in the changes we wish we could make, we didn't use Elul much...and we went through our daily routines without even thinking about teshuva. But we should not dispair! Just like when the meter was out, instead of slowly strolling back to my car, I RAN, we can all run now. Instead of sauntering through the next few days as if we don't have a care in the world, let's show Hashem how becoming the person we want to be is important to us. Let's show Hashem that we want to change, we want to become better, different, elevated, spiritual, growing people.
Let's use the little time we have left to think about the past year...the things we did that we wish we would never have done, things we may have read, watched, listened to, spoken about...and let's think about ways we can put up safeguards so that we don't stumble every time. Yes, we may fall, but falling is part of the process of growing. And like a trampoline, realize that sometimes we can jump even higher because of our downs, because of our falls. It is all part of the beauty of spiritual growth.
Change isn't easy. But we are given another gift-the gift of tefillah. And we can ask Hashem to help us become the person we dream of becoming. It may seem far off...but with baby steps, we can get there.
Thank you, Hashem for the gift of teshuva. Please help all of us use whatever time we have left until the yom hadin to utilize that gift...to the fullest!