When a Jewish boy reaches the age of thirteen and celebrates his Bar-Mitzvah, it is customary for him to receive gifts. The most popular gift, of course, is a check, but some also receive books and other valuable items. When Yanky became Bar-Mitzvah he was eagerly awaiting the gift that his grandfather, a wealthy man and noted philanthropist, would give him.

Upon returning home after the celebration he began to unpack the gifts. His grandfather’s gift came in a box. Inside on the top was an envelope with a handsome check. As he dug down deeper, he found an old-fashioned glass bottle of Coca Cola. On it was a note from his grandfather telling him that the bottle carried an important message for him to remember all the days of his life and that it would be his key to great success.

Unable to decipher the message, he waited till the morning when he went to his grandfather’s home, thanked him for the nice check, and then asked, “What was I to learn from the bottle?” The grandfather gently told Yanky, “Nowadays in most cities when you buy a bottle of soda you pay a deposit, which you receive back when you return the bottle. Etched in the glass of this old bottle that I gave you, are the words, ‘no deposit no return,’ and it is a important message which you should always remember. In life, if one expects a ‘return,’ it is necessary to make a ‘deposit.’ ”

“Miracles do happen, but only from time to time and only to certain people. To sit idle and wait for them to happen is improper. It is necessary to do, to put in one’s best effort, and undoubtedly Hashem will bless one with happy returns. This is true in every facet of life.

“When difficulties occur in a marriage, it is necessary to determine whether the husband and wife have really made a ‘deposit’ and have given of themselves to each other. When a partnership in business goes sour, one should see if each partner really made honest deposits — earnestly devoted himself, his time, and his interest to the business. If a person is disappointed with the way his children are turning out, he should ask himself, ‘Is it their fault or is it mine? Did I deposit into them an education and appreciation of Yiddishkeit which would produce the returns I would like to see now?’ ”

Rosh Hashanah is the time of the year when one makes resolutions, but resolutions in themselves are meaningless and insufficient. A resolution must be supported with sincere efforts. We must not forget that “no deposit, no return.” One cannot sit back and just rely on a miracle. It is up to us to put forth the effort and make the “deposit,” and when we do, the “return” is usually well worth it.

(הרב יעקב יהודה ז"ל העכט)