A new rabbi was recently hired at the temple, and for several weeks before the High Holidays, he prepared himself for the Rosh Hashanah evening service. He practiced his cues, read, re-read, and re-re-read the Torah portion. He even went over the responsive English readings. Being a new rabbi, he wanted everything to be perfect, and did not want to make any mistakes. He knew that everyone would be watching him.
He goes into the senior rabbi’s office a few days before Rosh Hashanah, excited to announce that he is completely prepared for the High Holidays. The rabbi shows his mentor the prayerbook, proud of himself for marking it up with cues and notes. He’s hoping to be congratulated for all of his hard work.
Instead, the senior rabbi looks at him and says, “Aaaah kinderlach, you’ve done a lot of work, but you put your efforts in the wrong place! You see, the prayers are the same as they were last year. And the year before that. And even the year before that. But you, you are different. How have you changed?! You don’t need to put the prayerbook in order. You need to put yourself in order!”