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THE MONTH THAT MAKES IT OR BREAKS IT
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PASSING INSPECTION
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We must use the days of Elul, to take every possible step, to ensure that we are deserving of G-d`s blessings.

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Jerry Black and Tom White went to school together for 12 years.  Even after they parted ways to attend college, they remained close friends.  “Like two peas in a pod,” people said of them.   The two boys liked the same games, the same sports, the same foods, the same type of clothes – it’s no wonder they’re friends, people would comment.  Both were good students, particularly in mathematics. 

In their last year of college, both young men decided the time had come to buy a car.  Independently, each one researched the market.  Once again, they proved to have the same taste: both students decided on a Holstead Ranger, and both chose the medium blue.  The cars were to be delivered on September 21.  So it was that the two friends met unexpectedly, when they went to pick up their new cars.  And, to their further delight, they discovered that they had both picked the same model, and even the same color, for their new purchase!

Jerry had to laugh.  “I guess that proves that neither of us has changed that much,” he said with a grin.  The two friends had a long chat, and parted ways once again.  They didn’t meet up again until three years later, when both were due to take their cars for an annual road test.  Tom grinned with delight when he spotted his friend waiting in line, and Jerry shook his hand warmly.

"How are you, Tom?  And how's your car holding out?" Jerry asked with a wide smile.

"You can have a look for yourself," Tom answered.  "My car's right here, waiting for inspection.  It purrs like a kitten.  I’m really happy with it.  It drives like a dream."

Tom looked long and hard at the car Jerry pointed to.  “That’s the car that you bought three years ago, when I got mine?” he asked incredulously.

“Of course,” answered Sam.  “You know what a Ranger looks like; why are you so surprised?  What does your car look like?  Isn’t it exactly the same?”

"I wish it looked the same!" exclaimed Tom.  "Yours looks as though you bought it just last week!  How did you keep it in such good shape?

"Just have a look at mine, over there…" Tom moaned.  He pointed to a blue Ranger parked a few feet away.  The paint was chipped here and there, and a dent in the front fender and a scratch on the front door attested to mishaps that had left their impression.   One hubcap didn't match the others, and one door handle was dangling at a strange angle.  If the motor of the car was in a similar condition, Jerry thought to himself, Tom had good reason to be concerned about passing the inspection this year.

"Don't you prepare your car before you bring it here?" Jerry asked incredulously.  "How will it pass inspection?"

With a wave of his hand, Tom laughed and said, "Don't worry about that!  I have a good friend working here, so I don't need to do anything special before I bring it in.  I know that my friend will 'arrange things' for me, so I don't bother doing anything before I come, explained Tom.

"But tell me, Jerry, how did you manage to keep your car in such good shape?"

"I have to work harder than you, Tom," said Jerry, shaking his head. "I know that I'm going to have to toe the line if I want my car to pass inspection each year, so I look after it.  I take it in periodically for lubrication and alignment, and have it checked, from headlamps to tailpipe, and everything in between, every two or three months. I tell the men in the garage not to skip anything.

"If they find any parts that are starting to show wear and tear, they repair them or replace them for me right away.  They lubricate it well, and then I can be sure that it will pass inspection without a problem.

"But that's not all.  Because I keep the car in good condition for inspection, it has kept well and it continues to serve me well.  I recommend you do the same, if you want your car to look – and drive – like mine!"

"You know, Jerry," answered his friend, "I think you're right.  It wasn't such a good idea not to take care of the car all these years.  True, I got through the inspection all right, but now, who knows whether I can ever get my car back into as good a condition as yours is in.

"Even if it can be done, it will certainly be a lot more work because I've neglected it so.  From now on, I'm going to take care of it regularly!"

******

The month of Elul gives us a chance to prepare for our coming rendezvous with the great Inspector.  Each of us needs to prepare himself for Rosh Hashanah, to review his character and his conduct, and to examine the standards he sets for himself.  Everyone has some aspect of his life that needs "cleaning up" or "lubrication" or has a few loose nuts that should be tightened.

On Rosh Hashanah, they are inscribed (in the Book of Life, or the opposite) and on Yom Kippur, they are sealed: who will live, and who shall die, who at the end of his days, and who not at the end of his days.  (from the Mussaf prayer service for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur)

In order to "pass inspection" on the Day of Judgment, to be inscribed for another full year of life and goodness, we must use the days of Elul to take every possible step to ensure that we are deserving of G-d's kindness and blessings.  


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