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Sep 12, 2022 By Yossi Kahana Category: Education,
The Month of Elul: A Time of Introspection
As the 12th and final month in the Jewish calendar, Elul is a time that connects the past year with the coming year—a time when we reflect on where we stand and where we should be going. Elul is traditionally a time of introspection and stocktaking—a time to review one’s deeds and spiritual progress over the past year and prepare for the upcoming “Days of Awe” of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Every day of Elul we blow the shofar and recite special Psalms in anticipation of the High Holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The sounds of the horn empower us to reach deep into ourselves and tap into that which is pure and Godly, unsullied by the crassness of our surroundings.
Often called “the month of mercy,” Elul follows the two previous months of Tammuz and Av—months of tragedies that were brought upon us through our sins. In Tammuz, the Jews sinned with the golden calf; during Av the first Holy Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed.
However, in Judaism, even when there is sin and destruction, there is still mercy. On Rosh Chodesh Elul, Moses ascended to Mount Sinai for a 40-day period until Yom Kippur, when he descended with the second tablets (luchot) and God’s word of joyful, wholehearted forgiveness. These were days when God revealed to the Jewish people great mercy. Since then, this time has been designated as a time of mercy and forgiveness, an opportune time for teshuvah—repentance.
The four letters of the name Elul are an acronym for the phrase in “Song of Songs” (6:3): “I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me.” “I am to my beloved”—we approach G d with a desire to return and connect. “And my beloved is to me”—G d reciprocates with Divine expressions of mercy and forgiveness.
From the beginning of Elul it is already appropriate to wish everyone a happy and sweet new year. The custom is to send a Shana Tovah greeting card to friends and family. Wish them a happy and healthy New Year!
In Israel there is a palpable sense of excitement within Jewish National Fund-USA’s extended family in anticipation of the upcoming new year. There are so many opportunities available for the children of Sderot to play in the state-of-the-art bomb-proof children’s playground built thanks to our generous donors. For all children, including those with disabilities, Jewish National Fund-USA’s work for people with disabilities in Israel ensures that every child – and all our children with disabilities – will have the same sense of belonging, of being part of the family, of being an integral part of the Jewish nation.
From your friends at Jewish National Fund-USA, we wish you a Shana Tova, a happy Rosh Hashanah, a meaningful Yom Kippur, and a sweet year of blessings and goodness!
To make a donation or plant trees in honor of the new year, visit us here.