Blog Post


Parsha Shoftim: Elul

Right before Shabbat is Rosh Chodesh Elul – the beginning of the Hebrew month of Elul. Which means we are one month away from Rosh HaShana – The Jewish New Year. Elul is not just an arbitrary, nice, round, one-month-and-counting anticipation of the big day. No, Elul has meaning in its own right. 

Most big things in life are like that. A wedding is life-altering, moreso because there is much work and anticipation beforehand. The weeks, and even months of preparation have meaning, significance and importance in their own right. Of course it’s all tied to the wedding, but a crucial part nevertheless. 

The same goes for Rosh HaShana. The whole month leading up to it has an essential role that makes the day even more special and meaningful. In some ways, Elul is a mini-camp to the High Holidays much the way sporting teams get ready for opening day. 

To understand what Elul is all about, we need to reacquaint ourselves with what Rosh HaShana is all about. Why is the first day of the Hebrew month, Tisheri the Jewish New Year? Not because of anything anyone Jewish did actually. But because God created Mankind on this day. It’s Adam and Eve’s birthday. 

It’s also called Yom HaDin – Judgement Day. Not only because God judges us for another year but because this is what we often do on our birthdays. We judge ourselves. We look inward and introspect. 

And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself, “Well, how did I get here?”
-Talking Heads

We ask ourselves, “Well, how did I get here?” What have I done? Where have I gone? Where am I going? What do I still want to do? Is what I am doing align with my life goals? Or did nothing really change from last year, or the year before, or the year before that?

Same as it ever was, same as it ever was
Same as it ever was, same as it ever was

Because the last thing you want in life is for it to be the “same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was”.

Elul is prep time. According to Jewish tradition, this is the month that God is closest to us. He is there to reach back to us once we reach out for Him. It’s the time of year where He is there to help us accomplish our goals and dreams as we work to realign them to be greater than past years. 

To remind us of this, every day during the month of Elul, after the morning prayer service, we blow the Shofar. The Shofar – our morning alarm clock to awaken us from our sleep of procrastination, lack of confidence in believing in what we know is truly good and meaningful and will really make a difference in our lives and in the lives of others. 

And while all of this may sound a little scary and maybe make us feel a bit uncomfortable, we never lose sight of the fact that אלול – Elul is also an acronym of the phrase, אני לדודי ודודי לי I am to My Beloved and My Beloved is to Me. That ultimately our relationship with God is one of love, care, warmth and connection.  And just as a parent only wants for their child’s good and welfare, so too God wants the same for us.

God is closest to us in Elul. He is there to help us reach our goals and dreams. To help us find and live by our true convictions and to leave aside the things that distract us from achieving our purpose. To once again set things right and go along the proper path of Goodness and Truth – for yet another year.   

You may ask yourself, “Where does that highway go to?”

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