Imagine the world's wealthiest investor finally gives you an appointment after you've waited an entire year for meaningful face time.
You know all too well that if you can only manage to get him on board with your vision, he can effortlessly transform your creative dreams into a concrete reality. After painstaking preparation, you arrive at the meeting and begin to present him with a PowerPoint summary of your strategic plan: You take him through your mission statement, demonstrate the market needs, point to your track record and articulate why you are the right person for the project.
Then comes the climactic moment: You request the amount you would need to turn this plan into a reality. He pauses, sighs and regretfully responds: "In theory, the amount would not be a problem at all, but your project is not in line with my investment priorities."
As it happens, every year during the High Holidays, all of us actually get meaningful "face time" with the world's wealthiest investor, otherwise known as God. And He wants to make sure that we don't blow the pitch.
Even though God's schedule is open for meetings with us throughout the year, during the holidays, we're offered 10 focused days of "power meetings,"during which we're invited to present our strategic plan and to solicit the Almighty to stand behind it. These are known as the 10 "Days of Awe," beginning with Rosh Hashanah and culminating on Yom Kippur.
The great news is that God — the ultimate investor — already believes in us and is tremendously eager to invest in our projects. Amazingly, God even attempts to steer us away from pursuing the wrong proposals. Do you hear what a tremendous kindness this is? The very same investor that we are coming to with our strategic plan is focused on making sure that we don't mess it up.
How is that possible?
Since God realizes that we may not have researched heaven's investment priorities so carefully, our 10 days of meetings begin with a two-day orientation symposium. This allows us to discover more about this investor's "background"; to explore what types of ventures are valued and worthy of support; and more.
During those two days, known as Rosh Hashanah, God watches us to get a sense of our sincerity and integrity. Are we wide awake during the seminar? Are we alertly paying attention to the content? Do we seem to be getting the big picture? Are we internalizing the message?
In short, are we viable candidates worth sinking major resources into?
Once we understand just where our magnanimous investor is coming from, we are granted eight more days to revise our proposal. We are urged to spend at least a little extra time going through God's brochures and "corporate literature," available in the form of prayerbooks and Torah texts. This should maximize our chances of creating revisions that will attract divine support. And, amazingly enough, we are allowed to practice our pitch on our investor as many times as we need to get it right.
Over the next 10 days, we all have a golden opportunity: to spend quality time with the only investor that can supply any resources we need to make great things happen in the world. God only wants to know what we will do with those resources. What will we do with the health, the strength, the wisdom, the money?
If we really tap into what's going on during the first two days — during the awesome orientation-opportunity available on Rosh Hashanah — then we will understand clearly how the investor would want us to use these blessings.
May we all merit hearing and understanding that message clearly, and may we be worthy recipients of abundant investments in the year to come.
Jon Erlbaum is the executive director of The Chevra.