The animals of the jungle were crippled with fear. Word had spread like wildfire to every corner of the jungle that the king of the jungle, the mighty lion, was furious at the animals. Every one of them worried for their lives. They convened an emergency meeting to discuss what actions to take given the news.
They spent hours brainstorming to no avail. Finally, the wise fox made a suggestion; “I have a repertoire of about 3,000 wise sayings, anecdotes, witty jokes, etc. Let us go to the lion king all together, and I will assuage his anger with my words.” The suggestion was agreeable to the animals, and they proceeded on their way to the lion’s den.
Suddenly, the fox stopped in his tracks. “Oy vey!” exclaimed the fox. “What is it?” asked the animals in alarm. “All of a sudden I cannot remember a third of my wise words. Not to worry; I still have 2,000 which should be more than enough!” The animals were a bit concerned but proceeded forward with the fox nonetheless. Yet again, the fox stopped and gasped, “Oh no! I’ve forgotten yet another third! Don’t worry, the remaining 1,000 are wondrous and will get the job done.” As they approached the lion’s den, the fox let out a great sigh, “I’m so sorry everyone. For some reason, I cannot remember a single of my sayings.” Now the animals began to really panic.
As the animals wailed, the fox made an effort to hush them and calm them down. As silence finally fell over the group, the fox said, “My dear friends, in truth you never needed my wise words and sayings to alleviate the king’s anger. I merely used the wise words and sayings to bring you this far; to the entrance of his cave. You are all more than capable of calming down the king. Just be yourselves. Be sincere, honest, and genuine, and speak from the heart. If you do that, you will succeed in your mission.”
This anecdote is relevant to each of us as we approach Rosh Hashana, the Day of Judgment. We tend to rely heavily on rabbis, speakers, and prayer leaders during these High Holidays. Some of us sit in the synagogue trusting that the prayers of the cantor and rabbi will carry all of us to a good year ahead. In truth, all of the sermons and the efforts of our religious leaders are simply meant to get us to the door. However, it is upon us to go inside and do the work from there. One doesn’t need to be a wise sage, have a beautiful voice, know the words of the prayers fluently, etc., in order to be sealed in the “Book of Life.” All we have to do is make an effort ourselves; to be genuine and sincere. If we do that, we will undoubtedly be sealed for an amazing year ahead.
Wishing you all a good and sweet year to come!
– Rabbi Liad Braude