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The Opportunities of Elul

By: Mrs. Rina Zinkin

The ideas in this Devar Torah were taken from Rav Zev Leff's foreword to Thoughts for the Month of Elul, by Rav Avigdor HaLevi Nebenzahl.


We find ourselves now at the spiritual station of Chodesh Elul.  The essence of the month of Elul is contained in a pasuk in Shir HaShirim (6:3), "Ani Le-Dodi Ve-Dodi Li," "I alone am my Beloved's (G-d's), and my Beloved (G-d) is mine."  The first letters of these words spell out “Elul”.  During these special days, it is our responsibility to take the initiative, to take the first step to be close to Hashem – as the pasuk says, "Ani Le-Dodi" – "I am to Hashem."  If we take that first step forward, then automatically, "Ve-Dodi Li" – we will discover that our Beloved is indeed close to us, ready to embrace us. 


As the shofar is blown each day during this month, we must realize our potential to bond with Hashem and our ability to perfect ourselves in His service.  The shofar wakes us up and forces us to look inward and see how far we have come in forging a relationship with Hashem.


Along these same lines, there is another hint to Elul in a pasuk in Devarim (30:6), “U-mol Hashem Elokekha Et Levavkha Ve-et Levav zarekha,” “Hashem will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring.”  The first letters of these words also spell out “Elul  Here, the message of the pasuk is that we must remove any obstacles and partitions that may be hindering our ability to proceed forward in our relationship with Hashem, a circumcision of the heart.  As Elul is the time to begin removing the past year’s impediments to avodat Hashem, it is very fitting that this pasuk contain within it a hint to Chodesh Elul.


Chodesh Elul is also a time to reassess and strengthen our interpersonal relationships.  This is alluded to in yet another pasuk.  In Megillat Esther (9:22), the pasuk says, “Ish Le-rei’ehu U-matanot La-evyonim” – “[Gifts from] each person to another, and gifts to the poor.”  The first letters of these words spell out “Elul  Elul is the time when the Jewish people reunite to achieve the ability to receive the Torah again, “ke-ish echad be-lev echad” – “as one person, with one heart.”  Klal Yisrael must be one unified entity to receive Hashem’s Torah.  (It is interesting to note that within the word “ani,” a word which refers to a lone individual, there is still an allusion to the klal.  The first letter of the word “ani” is aleph – one singular individual; but the last letter, yud, is ten, a unit of many, representing a minyan, the community of Klal Yisrael.  The connecting force that creates harmony between the individual identity and communal identity is the nun, the fifty gates of wisdom needed to create this partnership.)


This is the dual focus that we must strive for during our remaining weeks of Chodesh Elul – to forge the relationship with Hashem that we all desire, and to strengthen and mend interpersonal relationships. 


May all of our efforts during Elul lead us to do complete Teshuvah (repentance), and may all of Klal Yisrael be signed and sealed for a shanah tovah u-metukah (good and sweet year)!




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