Elul: Dress Up

Aug 31st, 2009 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Prayer, Spiritual Growth
I was hired to be a mashgiach – Kashrut supervisor – on five dairy farms in Eureka, Ca. Hershey’s wanted to make a run of Chalav Yisrael Hershey Bars, and they paid well. I needed to buy a refrigerator, washer, dryer and freezer, so off I went to Eureka.

I worked twenty hours each day, going from milking on one farm to the next. By the time I finished supervising the morning milkings I had to start all over again with the afternoon milkings.

It was exhausting, filthy and smelly work. So it was strange to see that there was a woman on one of the farms who came out all dressed up and perfumed. I asked her why she was so dressed up for milking cows. She told me that she didn’t ever want her husband to see her dirty and smelly. She wanted him to only have yes (and nose) for her!

This was a selection of the Talmud come to life!

Abba Hilkiah was a grandson of Honi the Circle-Drawer, and whenever the world was In need of rain the Rabbis sent a message to him and he prayed and rain fell. Once there was an urgent need for rain and the Rabbis sent to him a couple of scholars [to ask him] to pray for rain. They came to his house but they did not find him there. They then proceeded to the fields and they found him there hoeing. They greeted him but he took no notice of them. Towards evening he gathered some wood and placed the wood and

the rake on one shoulder and his cloak on the other shoulder. Throughout the journey he walked barefoot but when he reached a stream he put his shoes on; when he lighted upon thorns and thistles he lifted up his garments; when he reached the city his wife well bedecked came out to meet him; when he arrived home his wife entered first [the house] and then he and then the scholars. He sat down to eat but he did not say to the scholars, ‘Join me’. He then shared the meal among his children, giving the older son one portion and the younger two. He said to his wife, I know the scholars have come on account of rain, let us go up to the roof and pray, perhaps the Holy One, Blessed be He, will have mercy and rain will fall, without having credit given to us. They went up to

the roof; he stood in one corner and she in another; at first the clouds appeared over the corner where his wife stood. When he came down he said to the scholars. Why have you scholars come here?

They replied: The Rabbis have sent us to you, Sir, [to ask you] to pray for rain. Thereupon he exclaimed, Blessed be God, who has made you no longer dependent on Abba Hilkiah. They replied: We know that the rain has come on your account, but tell us, Sir, the meaning of these mysterious acts of yours, which are bewildering to us? Why did you not take notice of us when we greeted you? He answered: I was a laborer hired by the day and I said I must not relax [from my work]. And why did you, Sir, carry the wood on one shoulder and the cloak on the other shoulder? He replied: It was a borrowed cloak; I borrowed it for one purpose [to wear] and not for any other Purpose. Why did you, Sir, go barefoot throughout the whole journey but when you came to a stream you put your

shoes on? He replied: What was on the road I could see but not what was in the water. Why did you, Sir, lift up your garments whenever you lighted upon thorns and thistles? He replied: This [the body] heals itself, but the other [the clothes] does not. Why did your wife come out well bedecked to meet you, Sir, when you entered the city? He replied: In order that I might not set my eyes on any other woman. (Ta’anit 23a-b)

His wife and he paid attention to the details missed by most. Both of them looked and smelled better than the rabbis. God found their prayers more attractive than the prayers of others.

I arrived back in my motel room exhausted, filthy and smelly. I wanted to pray, but I remembered this woman’s words. I wanted God to see me as beautiful and attractive. Despite my exhaustion and only having four hours to sleep, I showered, shaved, polished my shoes, and dressed in clean clothes before praying.

Elul is a time of dress up: We are about to step into God throne room for judgment. I want to be the best looking fellow there. I want Him to see me in my best internal clothing, clean of sin, shining with His light and love, and smelling like roses!

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