Back in the days of Czarist Russia an inspection by the Monarch was as intimidating as an oncoming battalion of the fiercest enemy; the slightest misstep meant certain death—or worse...

One unlucky regiment learned of an impending visit and immediately entered full blown preparation mode. Boots were polished; marches and formations were practiced again and again and again.

The day arrived and one unlucky private was stationed two miles outside of the camp, ordered to stand at perfect attention in full regalia, despite the scorching summer day. As if to spite this poor isolated chap, he was positioned right next to a cool and refreshing lake. As the sweat poured down his face, he heard off in the distance the trumpets signaling the Czar's arrival at the base. Hour after endless hour passed and the soldier began to wear down. He eyed the cool waters of the lake and weighed the remote likelihood of the Czar even bothering to visit his lonely post. Finally, he desperately threw down his sword, stripped off his uniform and plunged into the refreshing waters.

The poor fellow lost track of time and sure enough emerged to the fuming screams of the Czar!

"I'll give you once chance to explain yourself, otherwise it's off with your head!""I'll give you once chance to explain yourself, otherwise it's off with your head!"

"Your Majesty," he humbly he replied, "who serves you? Neither my sword nor my uniform serves you—it is I who serves you. And here I am, your devoted servant."

When Yom Kippur begins we are filled with enthusiasm, ready to make this the most special, most spiritual, most meaningful Yom Kippur. We are determined to fill it with heartfelt prayer, inspired song and resolute concentration.

When Neilah, the final prayer of the long day starts we may find ourselves out of gas. Drained, back hurting, the guy next to me has bad breath and I have nothing left to give...

And that is when we can really connect with who we are and our relationship with G‑d. Like the soldier, we have no mental energy left, no emotional vigor, nothing at all. We stand before G‑d and say, "King of the king of kings, here I am, your devoted servant. I have nothing left to give, so I give you myself."

That's when G‑d locks the gates with us inside and we are sealed for a sweet New Year!