Why do we blow the Shofar during Elul? How does it prepare us for Rosh HaShana?
Once there were two friends, Meir and Shimon traveling by boat from one country to another. During the long journey, the boat docked on an island and the captain told the passengers, "You have a few hours to rest and relax on the land before our boat needs to load up and continue on its journey." The captain warned everyone, "I am going to sound the ships loud horn three times. The first time is for everyone to begin coming back to the boat, the second time is for everyone to make sure they get on the boat, and the third time is to let everyone know the boat is leaving the dock and continuing the journey."
Meir and Shimon got off the boat and found a kosher inn where they could eat and rest without the rocking of the boat at sea. However, Meir kept a ear out for the ship's load horn and Shimon did not feel like he had anything to worry about. All of a sudden the ship's horn sounded and Meir jumped out of bed! Shimon he called, we have to get ready to board the ship, the first horn has sounded. Shimon kept sleeping and enjoying his rest on dry land. Meir prepared his things and when the second blast of the ship's horn sounded Meir told Shimon, "I am going back to boat now! We cannot take any chances to miss the boat!" Shimon calmly replied, "I am not worried, I still have one more horn before the ship takes off. I am going to rest a little longer." Meir took off and boarded the ship and when the third blast of the ship's horn sounded, Shimon was racing towards the dock but the ship had already headed off to sea.
Rosh HaShana is the day of judgment since Hashem (G-d) judges the entire World on Rosh HaShana. Now is our chance to wake up from our "slumber" by doing teshuva (repentance) and get "on the boat" by improving our thoughts speech and actions so that we come to Rosh HaShana full of repentance and good deeds.