elul: the king is in the field

Elul is the 12th month in the Jewish calendar. In the same way that Friday is the preparation day for the Sabbath, Elul is a preparation month for the coming year—a time when we reflect on how far we have come, where we are presently and the direction we should be going.

It is called “the month of teshuvah (repentance),” “the month of mercy” and “the month of forgiveness.” Our Sages teach that “the King is in the field” during Elul. All year long one can make teshuvah but Elul is a special time of grace. In Elul, the King draws near in order to assist our turning. These are days of compassion and favor.

Elul is also a month of renewed covenant. In Tammuz, the Jews sinned with the golden calf; on Rosh Chodesh Elul, Moses ascended to Mount Sinai for a third 40-day period until Yom Kippur, when he descended with the second tablets (luchot) and G-d’s promise of forgiveness. These were days when G-d revealed to the Jewish people Divine compassion and favor. Since then, this time has been designated as a time of mercy and forgiveness, an opportune time for returning to the covenant. It is a season of introspection, improvement, renewal and restoration.

The four letters of the name Elul are an acronym for the phrase in “Song of Songs” (6:3): “I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me.” “I am to my beloved”—we approach G-d with a desire to return and connect. “And my beloved is to me”—G-d reciprocates with Divine expressions of mercy and forgiveness. The acronym for Elul is also found in Devarim 30:6 “”G-d will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring…” and Esther 9:22, “for sending delicacies to one another and gifts to the poor”. Together these verses allude to three things: repentance (circumcision of the heart), prayer (the song of the beloved) and charity (gifts to the poor). These three characteristics should be our focus during Elul.

Rosh Chodesh Elul Is Yom Rishon September 1st. Let us draw near to HaShem in humility and the merit of King Messiah!