A story is told of a foreigner who came to America and wanted to open a department store. Not knowing the American lifestyle, he walked the streets to learn how business is done in America, and he noticed that a certain store was attracting a much larger crowd than all the others. When he inquired as to the reason, he was informed that there was a sign above the store which read “Grand Opening” and that this usually attracts many people. He continued on his stroll and noticed another store a few blocks away which was also attracting more customers than all the other stores. Again he inquired and he was told that above this store was a sign “Going Out of Business” and that such a sign also tends to attract many inquisitive people.

Wanting his store to be a tremendous success, and unfamiliar with the English language, he hired a sign maker to copy both signs and place them above the entrance to his store. Business was terrible; people did not come in because they were convinced that the store was operated by a “meshuganer” — “lunatic.”

This story, which has an amusing note to it, unfortunately portrays many facets of life in general, and Jewish milestones in particular. Bar Mitzvah is the first celebration in which a young Jewish boy actively participates. But how sad is it when the Bar Mitzvah boy and his family, after attending services in the synagogue drive away on Shabbat to a non-kosher restaurant for a festive repast. In actuality, for this boy and his family, the “grand opening” and “going out of business” took place at the same time.

You and I have seen the lavish Bar Mitzvot where a huge birthday cake is rolled in with fourteen candles on it. The candles are lit up and then the Bar Mitzvah boy takes a deep breath and blows out all the candles. When this happens all are very happy and applaud the young man. How often is it that with blowing out of the candles he is proclaiming that on the day of his “grand opening,” he is also “going out of business” and drawing the curtain on his interest in Torah and Yiddishkeit?

I am sure you all know of many weddings which were entered into with much love and anticipation, and unfortunately end immediately afterwards with strife and animosity. The same holds true with businessmen who enter into a partnership which immediately turns into a disastrous battle in court. I can go on and on, but it is not necessary because I am sure you can all think of many examples of the “grand opening” and the “going out of business” taking place in quick succession.

In the Musaf liturgy we declare, “Hayom harat olam — “Today is the birth of the world.” In reality, the creation of the world started a few days earlier, but Rosh Hashanah is the birth of Adam — the first man — through whom the creation of the world reached fruition.

On this day Adam, the progenitor of mankind, made his “Grand Opening.” Annually, on Rosh Hashanah, Hashem gives each man and woman the chance to start afresh and make a “grand opening.” There are also some people who have a “grand opening” followed very quickly by a “going out of business.” They make lofty resolutions and commitments regarding their relationship with other people and Hashem in the year to come. Unfortunately, however, these are often very quickly disregarded and forgotten.

Let us resolve to stay in business throughout the year, and go from strength to strength in our devotion and observance of Torah and Yiddishkeit. With such an approach our “grand opening” will bring happy and prosperous results.