It is my personal belief that everyone is entitled to their favorite Dad Joke. My personal favorite goes like this: I was trying to figure out why the ball was getting bigger and bigger. Then it hit me.
Whether you heard this one before or not, there is a tremendous lesson to be learned from this joke. According to the laws of physics, the closer something is to you, the bigger it appears. The same is true when it comes to the laws of spirituality; the closer something is to you, the bigger it appears.
The High Holiday season – starting with Elul and culminating with Yom Kippur – is a time when our Sages tell us that we are extremely close to Hashem. We daven more during these times, we think more during these times, we conduct ourselves with more spiritual sensitivities during these times, and we repent more during these times. Overall, it is a season when we are generally speaking closer to Hashem than during the rest of the year.
This closeness inherently brings out the immense greatness of Hashem. Of course, nothing changes regarding Hashem, as He is always so big and great. But what changes is our level of proximity to Him, and as a result, Hashem appears so much bigger and great during the High Holiday season.
When we involve ourselves in matters that we shouldn’t be doing, we are so-to-speak distancing ourselves from Hashem, and what naturally follows is that we view Hashem as smaller and not as important, chas v’shalom.
If you ever went driving on the highway, you will know what I mean. The closer a car is behind you, the more alert and self-conscious you are. When a car is so close to you, that closeness actually impacts your thoughts and decisions. Should I change lanes? Am I driving too slowly? But if that same car is trailing hundreds of feet behind you and not in your proximity, its presence makes almost no difference to you.
The High Holiday season teaches us that Hashem – truthfully – is always so close to us, and when we realize this, that closeness should and will impact our thoughts and decisions. Should I change? Am I perhaps not living up to the best version of myself? Why am I not learning more Torah? How can I be treating my spouse like that? The closer Hashem is to us in our lives, the bigger He will be, and the bigger He is, the more of an effect that reality will make on our daily lives.
Parshas Vayelech begins with the words: וילך משה – and Moshe went. As Moshe’s end draws near, perhaps the Torah is educating us as to the very nature of Moshe Rabbeinu. Moshe was a הולך, a goer, a mover and shaker. His life was one of constant הליכה, going and growing in the path of greatness and in the ways of Hashem. The success of Moshe was his ability to be so close with Hashem, realizing His immense greatness, and thus, resulting in a lifestyle of constant change, growth, and development. Let us strive to do the same.