Rosh Hashanah is almost upon us. We stop and ask ourselves: What can we still do in the few days and hours remaining before we stand in judgment before our Creator? Is it really possible to rectify the shortcomings and misdeeds of an entire year in the hours and minutes left to us?
We feel like a person who gets a call from his bank manager: "You are one hundred thousand dollars overdrawn. We have already bounced nine of your checks. If you do not make an immediate deposit to balance your account, within the next seven days, we will be forced to return the next check that comes in.
"Let me just call your attention to the fact that ten bounced checks means that your account will be restricted for an entire year."
How embarrassing! All your checks will be returned. Everyone will know that your account has been restricted. No one will be willing to do business with you.
What can you do? How can you possibly come up with one hundred thousand dollars in the space of one week?
If you work around the clock for the next seven days, you might somehow manage to earn five thousand dollars, say even ten. But what will that help if you are one hundred thousand in the red?
Fortunately for us, Heaven keeps books according to a different system than bankers do. Unlike the head of our local financial institution, the Director of our "bank" Upstairs has our best interests at heart, not His own. A repentant "customer" will do well to approach Him and admit that he has erred in the past. He should declare with conviction that he wishes to mend his ways. From now on, he will no longer live recklessly, without keeping track of his expenditures. No longer will he write checks that are not covered by the balance in his account.
"From this day onward", he announces, "I'll accumulate only assets, no liabilities. Only mitzvos, no misdeeds."
G-d is good and merciful. He is anxious to welcome us back to His fold. When one of His children is truly penitent, He allows him to turn over a new leaf and to start again from scratch.
This is the power of asking for forgiveness, this is the special grace granted to us through teshuvah, repentance. G-d penetrates our hearts and knows whether we truly regret the misdeeds of the past. He can discern whether we sincerely regret past errors, or are just paying lip service to the words in our prayer book.
If we truly wish to improve, He Himself will help us to start a new, fresh page in the record of our years, a page which will earn us a good, sweet new year for us, a year of joy, good health, and blessing.