Monday, August 5, 2013

Searching Our Hearts...


The long hot summer is almost over. Families are returning from vacations and children are preparing to go back to school. And we the Jewish people are also starting to prepare for our new year, not by partying, but by searching.  

Tonight starts Rosh Chodesh Elul, a month before Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. 

Why is this month so special to us?  According to Jewish tradition, the World was created by Hashem on the twenty-fifth of Elul. This is according to the opinion in the Talmud of Rabbi Eliezer. Elul is called the month of repentance, the month of mercy and the month of forgiveness
The word Elul also means search.The time of the year when we search our hearts. It is a time to take a good look in the mirror and see what we don’t like about ourselves and prepare to make changes. 

Elul is spelt in Hebrew אלול [alef lamed vav lamed] and is an acronym of Ani l’dodi v’dodi li..I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.  Shir HaShirim 6:3.  My Beloved is Hashem and I is the Jewish people.   

We learn that from the beginning of Elul until Yom Kippur, Hashem is the closest to us. It is a time for us to do teshuva, to repent and ask Hashem and those we have hurt for forgiveness.   

Starting in Elul, Sephardic men wake up earlier in the morning to recite Selichot before Shacharit.  Ashkenazi Jews will gather to recite Selichot at midnight, the last Moetzi Shabbat before Rosh Hashana.  

We include Tehillim 27, in our davening,[prayers] from Elul until Hoshana Raba... One thing I ask of the Hashem, that I seek-that I may dwell in the House of the Hashem all the days of my life, to see the pleasantness of the Hashem and to visit His Temple every morning.   

The Shofar, the ram’s horn, is blown from the second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, and until the day before Erev Rosh Hashana.  The custom is to blow four sounds from the Shofar every weekday morning. The Shofar is not blown on Shabbat.  

May the month of Elul prepare us to enter the Rosh Hashana with a new perspective in life and to meet our challenges. 

Wishing everyone a year filled with Brachot. May you be sealed in the Book of Life גמר חתימה טובה

Until next time...feel free to comment and share.