We are inching towards Tishrei, a month of much inspiration and Teshuvah. Many people ask themselves, since after Succos we’ll be back at the same level we were at before Tishrei, what is all the Teshuvah and inspiration worth? Is it worth it to put in the effort to be inspired, if it will eventually dissipate?
Of course, the premises of these questions are false, in two ways. 1) Yes, Teshuvah is worth it, even just for the moment. It is a Mitzvah and it’s worth to live 120 years just to spend one moment in connection with Hashem. 2) Everyone grows after the Yomim Noraim. We don’t always see it right away, but over time we see that we changed and grew.
However, the Seforim have many pieces of wisdom how to make the Yomim Noraim have a lasting impact. One very important element is preparation. When we prepare for an upcoming Mitzvah or Yom Tov we create a ‘Kli’ – a vessel within us to receive the Ohr of the Mitzvah or Yom Tov and it stays with us.
One way of preparation is learning the Halachos on the meaning of the upcoming Mitzvah or Yom Tov. The pieces in the Torah that are associated with that Mitzvah or Yom Tov carry within them the Ohr of the Mitzvah or Yom Tov. By learning them, a person draws from this Ohr.
Also, just thinking about the Mitzvah or Yom Tov can have an enormous impact. During the days and weeks before an upcoming Yom Tov a person should think about the Yom Tov and develop an anticipation to it. Especially when a person prepares for the Mitzvah or Yom Tov, they should think about it and say with his/her mouth, “I’m doing so and so to prepare for the Holy Yom Tov..”
The Gemara says in Yuma, הרהורי עבירה קשים מעבירה – the thoughts about a sin are more severe than the sin itself. This is a difficult statement, because we know that doing an Aveira in action is worse than thoughts. We are not obligated to bring a Karban on an Aveira of thoughts only on an Aveira of action.
The Seforim explain that the Gemara means, that if someone does an Aveira with ‘Hirhurim’ (thoughts and imaginations) about it, the Aveira has a much more severe impact on the person than when doing the Aveira without the thoughts and imaginations.
If this is the case with Aveiros, how much more so is it with Mitzvos. The הרהורי מצוה, the thoughts and imaginations about a Mitzvah, make the Mitzvah have a far greater impact on the person.
May we all be Zoche to do so!