The portion of Ki Tavo is always read before Rosh Hashanah. There must be a message here to help us in our preparation for the great day.

The parshah opens with the mitzvah of bikurim, the first fruits.

First fruits were marked, later to be brought in a basket to the temple and placed near the altar. The priests would then enjoy the fruit.

The wealthy brought their fruits in silver or gold baskets, while the common folk brought theirs in wicker baskets. Those who brought expensive baskets would later take them home. However, those who brought wicker baskets would leave them in the temple.

One would think that it should be the other way around. The wealthy, who could afford it, should leave their silver baskets. The poor, who struggle, should be able to take their baskets home.

For the wealthy businessman the mitzvah of bikurim was special. Being busy, he didn’t have time. He just grabbed his silver basket, put in the fruit and went.

For the common folk, this mitzvah was so precious. It represented the thrill of “I get to bring a gift to G‑d!” Lovingly, they handcrafted their baskets especially for this mitzvah.

These wicker baskets were so precious to G‑d because of all the love, time and effort that went into them. Therefore, He wanted them. The silver baskets—beautiful as they are—did not have the same love, time and effort.

How will you prepare for Rosh Hashanah? Will you lovingly collect your fruit? Will you take the time to consider your past year’s mitzvah performance and how you will improve in the coming year? Will you spend time preparing yourself for the holiday or will you just show up?

Your effort is important and precious to G‑d. He wants it; He appreciates it; He loves it.

The same is true for our relationships. In our busy lives, many of our gestures are last-minute. Nice as they are, they are not the same as those we put time and effort into. While both are positive, the effort, time and love adds dimension, depth, and meaning.

Try it, and you will see.

Have a happy and sweet new year!