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Entering Elul

02/09/19 10:24:13 AM


Rabbi Boris Dolin


Just a few days ago, we entered the month of Elul, the holy month before the High Holidays.  As we are often told, this month is one of deep introspection and teshuva, and should be a time of seriously looking back on the year that has passed and reflecting on how we hope to move forward into the new one.  Where are we in our relationships, our family and our work? Where have we strayed from the path with our values or our actions, and who are the people to whom we need to apologize or fix our mistakes? All of this reflection and questioning is not always easy, and if we truly take it seriously it can very easily bring us to a place not necessarily of hope or clarity, but often of guilt.  There is just too much to work on, so many changes that need to be made. If we follow the spiritual calendar that is given to us, we only have a few weeks to go to make it all better!

But Elul should not be about guilt--let’s leave this to the punchlines of Jewish jokes.  This month, and the entire season of holidays is, according to one view in our tradition, primarily about two other important qualities: love and joy.  In fact we are told that Elul is an acronym for Ani l’dodi v’dodi li, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine,” the words of Song of Songs that remind us of the simple connection and peace that introspection and improving our lives can bring.  Becoming better, doing teshuva shouldn’t make us feel guilty for all the work we need to do.  Quite the opposite. The growth which we find in Elul should bring us to a place of calm, humble joy and love--a love as pure as what can be found standing under the huppah with your basheret.  As our tradition tells us, Elul reminds us that we have the power to change, and the strength to move forward with intention. And as we enter this holy month, that simple fact should bring us joy!

Sat, February 22 2020 27 Shevat 5780