For this mitzvah that I am commanding you today… it is not distant. It is not in Heaven…. For the thing is very close to you. (Devarim 30:11-14)
We’re coming to the end of Elul and approaching Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur. It’s a very scary time. For almost 30 days, we have been reviewing what we have done the past year and it might seem hopeless. I don’t know about you, but I have done some things this past year that I am very embarrassed about. I started wondering if there is any hope for me at all. How can I possibly change in such a small amount of time? How can I possibly get rid of all of the bad things I have done this year?
Then I remembered the summer vacation that I took this year. I spent time visiting Stone Mountain Park just outside of Atlanta. Stone Mountain rises to almost 1700 feet above sea level, but it is different from most mountains in that it is completely made from stone (I guess that’s why it’s called Stone Mountain). One of the sides of the mountain is a very steep incline and in the beginning of the 1900s someone decided that it would be a perfect place to make a carving. Therefore, in the middle of the mountain is a carving of the three Confederate leaders on horseback. It is a beautiful masterpiece and many people take pictures of it. The story behind it is that it took sixty years until this carving was completed.
Imagine a person that was working on this carving coming home to his wife at night. “So what did you accomplish today?” asks his wife. “I almost finished General Lee’s nose,” he proudly responds. “You have been working on his nose for over a year already!” his wife answers back. “I know, but these things take time. I want to make it look perfect and perfection does not come overnight. I accomplish a little more each day and eventually it will be a great sight to see!”
The answer of the man working on the carving is the same answer for us. As we review our year, we might think that our chances are hopeless. But don’t give up hope. Hashem does not expect us to be perfect. As long as we are working on improving ourselves and taking steps in the right direction, we are definitely doing very good. We sometimes think that this time of year is so tough, but our goal is not far from us. We are not expected to be angels, but to try to make ourselves better. And if we work on continuously improving ourselves, we will be a beautiful sight to see.
Good Shabbos and Chasiva V’chasima tova! I wish you and your family and friends a Happy and Healthy New Year!
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