Shalom to all,
The month of Elul is a time of great potential for awakening our souls and enlightening our lives. The Alter Rebbe wrote that in all other times of the year G-d is “in the palace,” but in Elul He is “in the field.” In other months there is a need for great exertion to greet the Heavenly King, but this month He is among us, “in the field,” and awaiting us to open our eyes and approach Him.
During these 30 days before the High Holy Days, He extends His arm with the attributes of mercy, giving us strength and inspiration to change for the better.
An ancient tradition of awakening is the blowing of the shofar. In Isaiah ( ) it is written, “Will the shofar be blown in the city and the people not tremble?’ This speaks of the shofar’s power to ring in the depths of our being and shock us out of our spiritual slumber. It is a mitzvah to hear the shofar everyday of Elul (except for Shabbat). Also, the physical structure of the shofar is a symbol for the power of Elul. The thin and wide openings relate to how, with our efforts, G-d takes our smallness and expands us to the point where our actions resound with might.
The Mishnah states that the most direct routes of approaching G-d during Elul are teshuvah, tzedakkah and tefillah.
Teshuvah is the “return” to the will and guiding light of G-d. At times, G-d forfend, we may feel incomplete or heartsick for no good reason. Such are sure signs that we need to make a change in our lifestyle, take time to nourish and cradle our soul and return to the Source. The “return” has two steps: uprooting destructive behaviors and vain habits and replacing them with study of the teachings of the Torah and living the mitzvot.
Tzedakkah is the best way to wash and protect our hearts. It is the prime example of elevating the mundane to divine purpose. When we give to those in need, we elevate all our hours of work and toil to become one big mitzvah. It is also said that giving tzedakkah is as if one gives life. When we feed another or provide them with the means to perform good deeds, we are taking them out of spiritual death and bringing vitality to their body and soul.
Tefillah, or prayer, is the primary means of reconnecting to G-d. When we pray, we are not merely reciting words, but we are inspiring ourselves to act uprightly for the rest of the day. By acknowledging, thanking and making requests to the Creator, we bring Him down from the loftiest heights and into our life. Because He is “in the field” during Elul, it is particularly important to reach toward Him with heartfelt tefillah.
Such is the nature and purpose of the auspicious month of Elul. Here at Chabad Tokyo Japan, we hope that you will kindle the inspiration to reach out and embrace the King and draw down blessings into your life.Wishing you Shana tova umetuka.
May we merit spending the New Year in the 3rd Temple in Jerusalem with the Rebbe King Moshiach.
Written by Moshe Silver