The month of Elul starts this Shabbat. That leaves us only one month until Rosh Hashanna, the day when the Almighty judges us for our infractions of the previous year and decides what the coming year will bring us.
I have been told that in pre-war Europe there was a saying “the fish in the ponds trembled when Elul arrived”. All the Jews felt the seriousness of the period of year and started to act with solemnity when they contemplated what the next forty days leading up to Yom Kippur will mean to them.
How do we in our modern times even begin to start to feel a smidgen of their concern? How do we break out of our hustle and bustle life and stop for a moment and review our actions and inaction of our daily routines?
A few days ago my wife and I went shopping at our local Osher Ad supermarket in Talpiot. The store had recently instituted the ability of its customers to self scan their purchases and thereby enable themselves to bypass long lines of shoppers waiting to check out. We picked up a wand to scan items, and started making our way through the store.
Each time we picked up an item we wished to purchase, we waived its bar code in front of the wand’s sensor and recorded our purchase. If we bought fruits or vegetables, we weighed them ourselves and had the scale print out a label that we scanned and attached to the bag. When we finished our shopping, we brought the shopping cart to the front of the store where somehow (magically?) the overall cart was scanned, and we were notified that we had not scanned one item properly and it wasn’t recorded as being purchased. We re-scanned the delinquent item, and were approved to pay. We proceeded to hand our credit card to the store’s cashier and we were off.
This process, while smooth and mostly efficient, got me started thinking. Can we somehow equate each purchase with an action of ours in the previous year? Do we possibly need to start scanning ourselves and take a look at what we have done (purchased for ourselves) during those twelve months? And if we don’t effectively scan ourselves, will we be stopped before we can complete our task and be told to re-scan ourselves? Finally, will we have enough credit so that we can successfully complete the transactions and be assured that we can go home for another year with everything we need?
May Hashem deem our scanning (and re-scanning), and our commitments to be better people in the future, worthy enough to enable our credits to accrue for us to another year of blessing for us and all of the Jewish nation.