The beginning of the month of August brings with it the sad realization that the summer is coming to an end. For us Jews, this inevitably means that the High Holy Days are looming and that we should start thinking about the past year and what we need to do to be ready for the new one.
King Solomon, who was considered the wisest of all men, and a great story teller, used to tell this parable about a very sly fox and a beautiful vineyard. In it, the King warns us to not be deceived by the material world, and reminds us upon what we will ultimately be judged.
According to the story there was once a sly fox who passed by a beautiful vineyard. More luscious than anything he’d ever scene, before. However, a tall, thick fence surrounded the vineyard on all sides. As the fox circled around the fence, he found a small hole in, barely large enough for him to push his head through. The fox could see what luscious grapes grew in the vineyard, and his mouth began to water. But the hole was too small for him. So what did the sly fox do? He fasted for three days until he became so thin that he managed to slip through the hole.
Inside the vineyard the fox began to eat to his heart’s content. He grew bigger and fatter than ever before. However, when he wanted to get out of the vineyard, alas, the hole was too small again. So what did he do? He fasted for three days, and then just barely managed to slip through the hole and out again.
Turning his head towards the vineyard, the poor fox said: “Vineyard, O’ vineyard! How lovely you look, and how lovely are your fruits and vines. But what good are you to me? Just as I came to you, so I leave you…”
And so, our Sages say, it is also with this world. It is a beautiful, luscious, wonderful world, but just as one comes into it world empty-handed, so one leaves it. Only the Torah we study, the mitzvot we performed, and the good deeds we do carry on with us. They are our currency for the High Holy Days and the World to Come.
Shana Tova U’metukah,
May the coming New Year be filled with happiness, peace, and good deeds.