It is Rosh Chodesh Elul! Our last month of the Jewish year. After a summer filled with outings, sun, visiting with friends, we begin thinking about getting back into our routine. If you are a teacher, you begin to plan your year at school. If you are a student, you prepare to go back to school. and if you are neither, you still prepare yourself for another season of beginnings. Ending and beginning. Ending the Jewish Year and beginning the last of the Jewish months. Elul, written in Hebrew has 4 letters.
Alef lamed, vav and lamed- it is an acronym, which many rabbis say stands for 4 hebrew words—Ani ledodi v’ dodi lee—“I am for my beloved and my beloved is for me”. In a world that values the self (check out all the self help books in any bookstore to find that it is the top selling genre), what does it mean to be FOR someone else? How can we define what it means to be for someone else? looking back at many instances in my life, some of the most gratifying moments of highlights were my realization of my role as a friend, a partner, a parent. Let’s pose the question of how each one of you,the readers, serve as a friend, partner or parents? And that begs the following question — how do we pick up and regroup if we have wronged those that are dear to us? I look for answers in our jewish tradition.
Our tradition teaches us that Moses went up to Mount Sinai on This day- the first of Elul ! He went up to receive the 10 commandments as well as the entire Torah, written and oral. He was there for 40 days and 40 nights, which means he came down on Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement. And while he was there, the people of Israel were awaiting his arrival. He has returned at the day of Judgment. A day where each one of us is being judged by God for our actions, deeds and misdeeds.
What impresses me most about this story, however, is that it was not the first time Moses did it. This was his second time climbing up Mount Sinai. First time was on the Jewish date of 17 of Tamuz, but it did not go so smoothly as many of you recall. While Moses was up, the people of Israel sinned and when he descended from the mountain, he ended up breaking the tablets, lots of people died and the people of Israel were punished. But, what happens next is the most revealing as to how to approach the month of Elul, be inspired and prepare ourselves for the high Holy Days season—
If we wrong someone and we know it, let’s re-approach them, open a conversation again and see how we can do teshuvah, turning around the situation for a better outcome. In addition, we need to be real and acknowledge and express our needs from the people that surround us.
May this month of Elul be a Chodesh tov!! A good month! May it bring resolution to be a better friend, better spouse, better parent and better citizen of the world.