I came across R. David Goldwasser’s book Elul at shul and decided to read it during Shabbat. I came across two stories in his work which I want to share. These are good thoughts for pondering as we get ready for Rosh Hashanah.
1. “In our bais medrash, I noticed that there was one young married man who never missed a minyan, no matter how difficult it was for him. He would always be among the עשרה ראשונים – the first ten. One day there was a tremendous snowstorm. Only three people had made it to the early minyan on time. He was one of the three.
Finally, I asked him, ‘How is it that you never miss one day and are so medakdek – careful – in coming to minyan, especially on a day like this?’
He answered me that as a teenager he was a little bit weak in shemiras hamitzvos. His father was a very pious man. The father used to come in every morning to wake him up to go to minyan, knowing full well that it was a tremendous nisoyon – challenge – for his son to get up and daven with the tzibbur. Instead of rebuking the son, the father in gently waking him would always say: My son, it is time to get up for minyan. But if you are going to remain in bed, sleep well. And then he would proceed to make sure that I was covered properly with the blanket.
The young man continued to tell me that on the day his father was niftar, he promised the Ribbono Shel Olam that he would always be medakdek in tefillah b’tzibbur.
דברים בנחת תהא נשמעים (p. 67 – 68)”
2. “The Simchas Higayon explains that the way of the world is that when a person rents a house to his friend, he writes a lease in which he stipulates that one month before the lease expires the renter must inform him whether he wishes to renew the lease for another year. In some places it is customary to pay up any outstanding rent of the previous year, as well as advance payment for the first month of the new lease.
However, there are people who, since they are so busy, forget this stipulation in the lease and they don’t notify the landlord until the last week of the year. That last Shabbos, when the person is sitting at his Shabbos table relaxing in comfort, he remembers that it is almost the end of this year’s lease, and he still hasn’t told the landlord that he wants to stay. He is afraid that maybe the landlord may have already rented his place to someone else. He is troubled and distressed. ‘Where will I go?’
Therefore, on Motzoei Yom Menucha he runs with all of his strength to the landlord. Maybe – just maybe – he can still obtain a lease for the coming year.
We can well apply this story to ourselves. Every year the Ribbono Shel Olam gives us a lease. But one month before the year is up, Chodesh Elul, we need to come and ask that Hashem should ‘renew our lease.’ In fact, there are those that begin Selichos from the start of Elul. However, because we are busy, we forget the stipulation. We have forgotten to appear before the landlord to state our request. On the holy Shabbos, when we relax in comfort we remember: we still didn’t tell the ba’al habayis (landlord) our request for another year of brocho – blessing. What do we do? On Motzoei Shabbos (Saturday night) we run to plead with and supplicate the Master of the World to ‘renew our lease’ for the coming year.”