There was once a very wealthy Jew who was also a very big miser. He was solicited for every type of worthy cause, but he could never part with even a cent.
Once, while out surfing he was caught by a massive wave and swept out to sea. A rescuer came to his aid and, leaning over the edge of his small vessel, he shouted, “give me your hand!” The miser replied, “I’ve never given anyone anything, and I don’t plan on starting now.” Thinking quick, his rescuer responded, “All right, don’t give me your hand. You take mine!”
We are now in the Hebrew month of Elul. There is a Jewish tradition that the Hebrew spelling of the word Elul evokes the words of the psalm “ani ledodi vedodi li,” which means I am with my beloved and my beloved is with me. This teaches us that Hashem, our beloved God, is especially close to us during this month which leads up to the high holidays.
When seeking God’s forgiveness, we are sometimes like the miser in the story. God wants to rescue us, but we refuse to extend our hand. When our dear and loving God sees that we won’t seek His forgiveness, He doesn’t hesitate. He says take my hand and I will draw you close; I want to forgive you.
We should learn this lesson and try to emulate God in this manner. How often do we see friends of many years suddenly have a falling out over a seemingly trivial matter? If we find ourselves in such a situation, let’s do everything we can to bring about peace and forgiveness, even if it means initiating the reconciliation and reaching out to the party at fault. We should not worry about the way that the other person might have insulted or cheated us, because “ani ledodi vedodi li,” Hashem is holding us close and he will ensure that we have a safe journey.