28:47 Because you did not serve the Lrd your G-d with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, by reason of the abundance of all things…

There was once a poor man, coarse in character, and illiterate. Fate had it that this peasant won the lottery and became very rich. This man, who never saw the world before, did not improve his state at all, but rather continued to live like a peasant. When his daughter became of age for marriage, the most important person in his community was the Rav. The peasant realized he could use his wealth to attain a relationship with the Rav by suggesting a match with the Rav’s son. The local matchmaker tried to dissuade the peasant because he understood that his chances were slim and didn’t want to make the effort for a sure-fire failed attempt – for which he would not get paid. However, the peasant persisted and said he would give the matchmaker a very large sum if he could pull it off. The matchmaker, by nature a dealmaker, with great ingenuity, brought the match to fruition. This peasant came to the wedding, dressed in rich robes, expecting to be able to have a friendly relationship with the Rav. Unfortunately, the mechutan (the Rav) was only as warm to him as the rest of the guests and did not bring him into his inner circle of friends. The peasant asked the matchmaker to find out the reason why he was being shunned by the Rav. The answer which he got back was rather enlightening: The Rav said: “though it is true that we are now related through our children, but besides that technical aspect, we do not share any common ground. What to you is important (where potatoes can grow and the new vaccination for cows), to me is utterly useless. Likewise, the world that interests me, Torah and Mitzvos, is of no interest to you.” In short, a joint venture alone does not necessarily bring about common ground.

The Dubno Maggid tells us that there are many people who perform mitzvos because they are commanded to, and they think that by doing so they have attained a relationship with Hashem. The Torah tells us “if you do not become joyful and excited with the performance of mitzvos, though you may technically have cut a deal with nobility (i.e. Hashem), the relationship can still be lacking.”

During Elul, many of us try to be more meticulous in our mitzvah performance. However, just racking up points does not alone foster the relationship that repentance is supposed to bring about. We should add to our Elul schedule some thoughts and appreciation of the bond that we have with Hashem. Fostering a meaningful connection that will help us achieve a chasima v’hasima tova!