There was once a man that walked into a clothing store. He told the store owner his measurements and was brought a fine suit. The man went into the fitting room to try the suit on. The man came out and complained that the suit didn’t fit – it was too tight. The owner of the store looked closely at his customer and discovered the problem. “Sir,” he said to the man, “in order for the new suit to fit, you must first take off the old one.”
This week we read Parshat Ki Tavo, which translates “When you come . . .” Last week’s parsha was Ki Teitzei, “When you go out . . . “ There is something poignant about the names of these two parshiyot. It is Elul and 5777 is quickly waning only to be replaced with 5778. As we hear the sound of the shofar each morning we are reminded that this is the season of reflection. It is a time to look back and think about what we have done – the good as well as the not so good. It is the time to ask the important questions: Who am I? Who do I want to be? How can I improve? The Rambam, in his Laws of Teshuva, says we must acknowledge our mistakes, know they were wrong and honestly strive to improve and fix them. This is the opportunity to become even better, to reach farther than we thought we could.
In order to do this when we come out of the old year we must shed ourselves of the old suit - those habits that prevent us from putting on the new one for if not when you come into the new year it will still be the old suit. This requires change – and that is hard. A former principal for whom I worked said at his retirement dinner, after more than 40 years of running the school, “The only one who likes change is a wet baby.”
The new school year has begun. 5778 is only a few days away. I want to welcome our new students, our new families and our new teachers. I welcome back all those returning. May this be a wonderful, productive year, a fulfilling year, a year of good health, and a year of peace.
Rabbi Yaakov Traiger