Most people have already gone on holiday. Today lots of people take their time of vacation to go abroad. They love to be away from places that remind them of work and the daily struggles of life.
For me this month is my travel time. It is a period to make long walks and to look at the wonders of nature. It is also some reflection time, putting everything on a, or in, line. For me Elul is traditionally also a time of introspection and stocktaking — a time to review my own deeds, but also to look at my own spiritual progress over the past year, this also to prepare myself for the upcoming “Days of Awe” of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.
Soon I shall take several days free, to end the Jewish year. Coming to a close, before entering a new Jewish year and a new academic year, I love to overlook the past year. Elul is a month that connects the past year with the coming year. The ideal time to reflect on where we stand and where we should be going. It is a moment to check if we did not hurry too much to go for worldly things or material gain, instead of spiritual gain.
It is so easy to be swallowed up by this full speed driving economic world, where often the CEO of firms are not so much interested in the personal beings who work for them. Often those workers are just numbers or parts to have the machine running and producing as favourited. When we are in charge of people, did we have an eye for them, or where they just the workforce we use to bring enough money for our purse?
Now taking some time to reflect how we used our time here on earth and how we used or stood against others. Haven in Time, I now face these coming days. Reviewing the Year, looking at a Month of the Bride.
We must be fully aware that in this month that God feels closer to us and we feel closer to Him, we should show remorse for all the things we did wrong in the past year. But I am pleased that it is taught that in this month, the “King is in the Field,” meaning that The Bore, our Most High God is readily accessible, willing to hear our requests and to listen to our fervent prayers for the coming new year.
Every day of Elul we blow the shofar and recite special Psalms in anticipation of the High Holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Remembering how after Israel sinned with the golden calf, Moses spent 40 days pleading for forgiveness, I, even not having made a golden calf, have to agree that sometimes my eyes were also having their focus on not the right spiritual things. Though I did not create idols to worship, where there not moments I placed myself before God? Not so much by intention, but just forgetting my place in God’s world, favouring a good or high place in man’s world.
In anticipation of the High Holidays I prefer to take some time off worldly duties. Only keeping the place clean and preparing food shall connect me with this earth. The rest of the time I shall focus on my relationship with the Elohim. The soul-stirring shofarblasts shall inspire me and my family to come closer to God, as we read,
“Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid?
Afraid for God we have to be in a certain way. But we should not be afraid to come closer to Him, and to confess our wrongdoings and our hope to correct ourselves.
Feeling remorse over past misdeeds and setting ourselves upon a fresh new path, is for what we can look forward. Honestly, we can only pray to God and hope that He has written us in the Book of life.
As the month of Divine Mercy and Forgiveness it is a most opportune time for teshuvah (“return” to God), prayer, charity, and increased Ahavat Yisrael (love for a fellow Jew) in the quest for self-improvement and coming closer to God. Chassidic master Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi likens the month of Elul to a time when
“the king is in the field” and, in contrast to when he is in the royal palace, “everyone who so desires is permitted to meet him, and he receives them all with a cheerful countenance and shows a smiling face to them all.”
I do hope you too shall find some free time to meditate on what God provides for us, even when we are sinners. Let us all be united in thought and wherever where we may be lets us all feel united as People of God, honouring and praising Him, and showing Him and those around us our thankfulness for all what God has in store for us.