I'm in the park with my baby. I watch a whole group of girls entering the park excitedly, together with their counselor. They walk together, as one unit, in close-knit groups of friends having fun together.
And I think.
I think about these girls...as individuals. Each one of them is precious to their parents. Each one comes from her own home with parents who worry about them as they hope for them to have a good day, to have good friends, to just be happy.
Yes, these girls look like one group of happy day-campers, having fun and playing together. But there is so much more behind each face. Siblings who love them (hopefully), parents who care for them, grandparents who enjoy them and shep nachas when they see them...a whole separate family unit, away from the group of girls they spend most of their days with.
There's a girl running through the sprinkler, having a great time, getting soaking wet.
There's another girl who trips and falls down, but her counselor gets her back up again without even giving her a chance to cry. She joins the rest of the group and forgets about her fall within seconds.
She's just a counselor, I think.
How would her mother react?
Her mother's heart would skip a beat when she'd see her child fall. She'd quickly embrace her, calm her down, comfort her and then let her run off again to play...with a warning to be more careful next time.
Parents love each child...each one as an individual.
It doesn't matter how many other cute, pretty or smart girls there are in her bunk.
Each child belongs to her mother. To her father. To her parents. To parents who love them with their whole heart, who would do anything for their children.
Even if a parent has more than one child, they worry and care about each one separately, independent of their other children. Each child, with his/her character, personality and makeup has different needs...and every parent wants to do their utmost to take care of them and make sure those needs are met.
We are all children of Hashem.
Hashem loves each of us as an individual.
We are like an only child to Him.
Yes, there are so many other "children" playing in the park of life, running through sprinklers, getting wet, having fun, tripping and falling and needing help getting back up.
That's the greatness of Hashem.
He is not like a human being who is limited by time and space, who cannot do more than one (or two or three for the really talented multi taskers out there!) thing(s) at a time.
Hashem, like a loving, caring father, looks out for each of us at all times.
Tomorrow is Rosh Chodesh Elul. Elul is an acronym for ani ledodi vedodi li. It is a time for us to come closer to Hashem, closer to our loving Father, look inside ourselves and around us and think about the things we want to change.
Our relationship with Him.
If you moved away from your parent and during that time your relationship got somewhat strained and then you found out that your parent was moving back...to your city...to your town...down the street from you...wouldn't you want to work on fixing your relationship? Wouldn't you want to become close once again?
Well, now's the chance.
Hashem is moving back. He's moving in. He's coming back to you. To your neighborhood...
He will enter your heart.
All you have to do is let Him in.
Try to rid yourself of things that distract you from Him. Try to connect to Him once again...with your siddur, with your tehillim, with your own words...with His Torah.
Take out a book, a Jewish book, an inspiring book, a book that talks about growth...and try to reconnect.
Your Loving Father is waiting for you.
As the month of Av, which stands for Elul Ba, comes to a close, and we welcome in the month of Elul, do what it takes to achieve that closeness and connection your heart is yearning for.
Hashem will welcome you with open arms. You just have to take the first step towards Him.
Pischu Li Pesach...you open the opening the size of the head of a needle...V'ani eftach lachem...and I [Hashem] will open for you...the size of a ballroom.
May you be able to utilize the time you have during the coming month to take positive steps towards change and growth. May you be able to move slowly, one baby step at a time...so those changes last. And may you be able to look back at the end of this month and be proud of yourself and what you accomplished!