This week we began the Jewish month of Elul, which is the month when we start the preparation for the High Holy Days.
The Hebrew Month of Elul is comprised of these Hebrew letters– aleph, lamed, vav, lamed – which is known in the Talmud, as the acronym for “Ani l’dodi v’dodi li,” a verse from Song of Songs that means, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”
There are many practices during the month of Elul that prepare us for the High Holy Days. It is no coincidence that this month focuses on our inward reflections. Elul is the month where opening our hearts to love will help us in our efforts to return to God and to give forgiveness, and enable our relationship with God to embody “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” Elul is a time to take account of our souls or in Hebrew: “heshbon hanefesh.”
We have added liturgy to say during the month of Elul, and one psalm we say more often is Psalm 27 https://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt2627.htm The overall theme of the psalm is to retain our faith in the face of fear. It takes courage to maintain our faith. Let me know if you try to recite Psalm 27 daily, and how this psalm shifts your preparation for the High Holy Days.
Another practice could be just reciting the verse “Ani l’dodi v’dodi li.” By placing this verse on the heart of the month, may we be reminded that practicing of ‘heshbon hanefesh” it is to be done with love, and with tenderness.
Judaism encourages us to look at forgiveness as return. That we are not on a linear path or an upward journey, but rather that we are in a circle, always connected to one another. Sometimes we feel distant, and hopefully through the month of Elul we can again be close to those we love, to our tradition, to our community, and to God. If we start this process of return with “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine,” perhaps we can more easily forgive and take account of our soul.
High Holy Days begin with Selichot on Saturday, August 28, 2021 at 6:00 p.m., we will be here to help you through the journey towards return through prayer, community, and love.