A car wash is a great business. Within thirty seconds of driving out of the car wash your car has already lost 100% of its pristine gleam and within a week it starts to look like any other dirty car. So if people know that their car is going to get dirty, why do they bother spending the time and money to clean it in the first place? Sometimes Yom Kippur feels a lot like a car wash. Is there a person in the world who repented on Yom Kippur for all his sins and never sinned again? And most of us have trouble seeing even the smallest improvement from one Yom Kippur to the next. Isnt it all a bit of a waste of time? I mean, who are we fooling? Certainly not G-d. And if were honest not even ourselves.
Have you ever tried to clean a car that hasnt seen water in two years? Its almost impossible. The dirt and the grime have eaten into the paint. Its impossible to make the car shine.
Its true that the gleam on our car when we leave the car wash is very short-lived, but theres a more important reason we make our weekly pilgrimage to the car wash. It gives us the possibility of returning to the shine of the original paint-work.
Yom Kippur is the same. The sheen with which we leave shul after Yom Kippur may wear off pretty quickly, but if we never experienced a Yom Kippur, soon wed become so spiritually dulled that we would never be able to get back to the luster of our "original paint-work."
Heard from Rabbi Chaim Salenger in the name of Rabbi Avraham Jackobowitz