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For the love of Elul 

09/14/2022 04:05:15 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy

Last week, I looked up at the full moon and realized that we are halfway through the month of Elul. After a brief moment of panic, I remembered that this month is more than a time of frantic preparations for the High Holy Days; it’s an opportunity for personal introspection and reflection.

It might sound a bit funny, but as a rabbi, it feels harder to find moments to connect, reconnect, and reflect during this holy time. Yes, we’re busy with sermon writing, preparing teaching materials, getting all of our cues marked, and more. And yet, we too need to find ways to review the past year, see where we’ve missed the mark, and make commitments to be better in the year to come.

One aspect of Elul that I have always found comforting is the fact that the Hebrew letters of this month spell out an acronym. Elul is spelled with the letters alef-lamed-vav-lamed. These are also the first letters in the well-known phrase from the Song of Songs, “Ani l’dodi v’dodi li,” which translates to, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”

While most know this verse from weddings and other moments in which we celebrate love between people, I appreciate these words during the month of Elul because they remind me of the love between God and humanity. We spend this month participating in Cheshbon ha Nefesh, the accounting of our soul. But we can also take time to assess our relationship with God.

Just like in a relationship between people, a relationship with God changes and evolves over time. Sometimes it’s filled with joy and happiness, other times it seems fraught with challenge and bitterness. Occasionally there is a sense of longing, of needing one another, or it feels completely lacking or missing. We have to cultivate that relationship to help it develop and deepen, through the difficult moments, as well as the times of greatness.

Elul offers us the chance to reflect and refocus on the year to come, as well as find and center the love between us and God. That love helps us to grow, to become better, more complete and fulfilled individuals. It makes the world a more peaceful and loving place.

As the moon continues turning towards the month of Tishrei and the last wisps of Elul remind us of the work still to be done, may you find that love and connection with God. May you find joy and blessing in the year to come. And may 5783 be a year filled with sweetness, wonder, and discovery for you and your loved ones.

Fri, September 29 2023 14 Tishrei 5784