This past Shabbos Bereishis I was at Congregation Aish Kodesh in Woodmere, NY (well, actually I was there starting on Hoshannah Rabbah and just got back very early Thursday morning) and wanted to share a small part of what remember from Rav Moshe Weinberger’s Shabbos drasha. I take all responsibility for any mistakes and lack of fully explaining any ideas given over by Rav Weinberger.
Rav Weinberger started off mentioning that from Rosh Chodesh Elul until Hoshannah Rabbah we have 51 days. He then quoted the 4th pasuk from the 4th perek of Bereishis:
4. And Abel he too brought of the firstborn of his flocks and of their fattest, and the Lord turned to Abel and to his offering.
ד וְהֶבֶל הֵבִיא גַם-הוּא מִבְּכֹרוֹת צֹאנוֹ, וּמֵחֶלְבֵהֶן; וַיִּשַׁע יְהוָה, אֶל-הֶבֶל וְאֶל-מִנְחָתוֹ.
The pasuk says “Hevel haivee gam hu” to teach us that Hevel didn’t just bring his karbon, but he brought gam hu “also him[self]”, giving 100% of who he was.
If you give someone a present, just to be yotzei by giving a gift, it’s isn’t as personal and meaningful as really putting thought i, ento giving someone a present, thereby giving part of yourself to another person. The greatness of Hevel was that he gave himself over to Hakodesh Baruch Hu. Much in the same way that Avraham intended for Yitzchak to be a karbon and, in fact, Chazal teach that even it was as if Yitzchak himself became the karbon.
Rav Weinberger then said he had a machshava based on the 1st pasuk in the 2nd perek of Koheles:
1. I said to myself, “Come now, I will mix [wine] with joy and experience pleasure”; and behold, this too was vanity.
א אָמַרְתִּי אֲנִי בְּלִבִּי, לְכָה-נָּא אֲנַסְּכָה בְשִׂמְחָה וּרְאֵה בְטוֹב; וְהִנֵּה גַם-הוּא, הָבֶל.
Rav Weinberger noted that again we have almost the same loshon of gam hu havel as in the pasuk in Bereishis. If I recall correctly, we can replace “havel” with “Hevel“, and see again that we have to give of ourselves when severing Hashem. with joy and pleasure.
He concluded by saying that a person can spend those 51 days between Rosh Chodesh Elul and Hoshannah Rabbah going those the actions offering up karbonos of Selichos, mikvah, teshuva, davening, mussaf, al chaits, living in the sukkah, saying hallel, shaking our lulavim and esrogim, and performing hoshannos, but if we are not prepared to fully give ourselves, “gam hu“, then it’s as if we aregive a present in a haft-hearted way and not fully giving a karbon to Hashem in the most beautiful way possible. We each have to give of ourselves to Hashem. That’s what he wants from us.