The first suggestion we make is to read what we said the last four years about the month of Elul. What will be said this year will build on what we said last year.
Below is the link to the last five year's Blog about Elul. Please press your back button to return to this location after you read last year's Blog.
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Rosh Chodesh Elul is one of 4 New Years. This particular new year is little mentioned. It needs to be mentioned more often.
I want to ask you to focus for a few moments on what promises to become the next Tu Bishvat -- Rosh Hashanah Lab'eheimot, the New Year for the animals, which arrives next week on Rosh Chodesh Elul. Like Tu Bishvat, the New Year for the trees, Rosh Hashanah Labeheimot is a fiscal year marker. Just as Tu Bishvat evolved into something more meaningful -- a seder focused on Kabbalah and more recently on ecology -- so too is this Rosh Hashanah evolving into something more meaningful, focusing on animal rights, extinction, and related issues.
Additional Commentary for Elul 5780 By Adin Steinsaltz z'l
Today is the eve of Rosh Chodesh Elul, mazal Betulah, the new moon of the month of Elul, and its sign of Virgo - the counting down way to Rosh HaShanah is beginning - Chodesh Elul Tov uMevorach to all of us and the whole world! Below, a beautiful article by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz z'l, about the blessed month of Elul (at blogs.timesofisrael.com):
"Prepare for the New Year The custom of public contemplation before the High Holidays gives Jews a chance to ask each other: Where are we going? The beginning and end of each year are times that stimulate all of us to think. Even those who are not in the habit of making a daily “accounting of this world” (Bava Batra 78b) tend to do so at these moments, during these days that are so conducive to examining, summing up, planning and thinking. Beloved are the People of Israel, who were given by the Almighty times and festivals at the beginning and end of each year for contemplation, for receiving answers to our most urgent questions, and for confronting the challenges that we may face in the (hopefully better) days ahead. And if this is true every year, how much more must we think, repent, and make good decisions, when the days of the year give us no rest, and when the routine of daily life blurs our most fundamental thoughts: What is life about? What do we live for? Where are we going?
The days of the month of Elul, and the following month — the seventh month, Tishrei, with its numerous festivals and special days — are bountiful both in their commandments and in their prayers. All this is so much to take in, that we may become insensitive to the days’ messages. Furthermore, the month of Elul and the festivals of Tishrei each demand very different intentions on our part. The month of Elul does not have a specific focus, unlike Yom Kippur, which is a single day of concentration. And the Days of Awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which have a stern aspect to them, are not at all like the days of Sukkot and Simchat Torah, days of relaxation and joy. This kind of preparation for the festivals is an ancient custom. Our Rabbis say we should begin the public study of an upcoming festival quite a long time before its arrival (Pesachim 6a).
Beyond the need to teach and remind ourselves of the festival’s laws, there is also a psychological purpose to this study: to prepare ourselves both for the rituals that we will perform and for our mindset. How we are going to enter into the festival? This is the work of plowing, which prepares the soil to take in the gifts of Heavenly bounty and make them grow. In all aspects of spiritual life, there is, of course, room for a great amount of privacy and individuality. In the words of the wisest of all men (Proverbs 14:10): “The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger has a part in its joys”. Private, inner experiences cannot be fully shared with others. Perhaps it is only the ministering angels who can “accept from each other” (See Targum Yonatan to Isaiah 6:3). Still, “He fashions their hearts alike” (Psalms 33:15) — an alternate translation is “He creates their hearts together”. Despite all the differences and partitions dividing one soul from another, Jewish souls are bound in some way. This closeness enables us to be givers and receivers even in those things that come from the innermost recesses of our hearts. We must, therefore, try to receive from each other virtues and emotions that will help each and every one of us to find our own path to the Almighty Creator."
chanoch adds: The term plowing is a term used by the Kabbalah Centre. It means preparing the world for Mashiach and then redemption.
Name: ELUL אלול
Elul is a transition month. It is bringing us to the end of one year and the beginning of another. This is an aspect of duality yet it is a different duality than what we experienced in the month of Av. The universe is still in a frame of judgment yet it gives us opportunities to utilize this judgment to decide on our own to return to our decisions that have created chaos in our lives. It lets us change who we are so the effects of chaos can not find the perpetrators of those actions. The perpetrators, which are ourselves, no longer exist in the physical or even the spiritual worlds. We call these changes Teshuvah or returning to HaShem.
Elul is a challenging month since it is a bridge between summer and autumn. It is the end of summer which is known and the beginning of autumn which is yet to be revealed. This is also a metaphor for ourselves. It is a month of potential contemplation. This contemplation is not easy yet the alternative to this return to our past action is worse than the actual self-judgment. The universe will send people and memories to the forefront of our minds. Use this opportunity wisely.
Attribute: Health בריאות Beriot: The meaning of the word health is different today than what the ancients meant. Today health applies to physical body ailments and disease. In the Ancient meaning, health relates to anything that is not healthy: Body, Soul, Relationships, Business, Trade, and Country Wide discussion. It relates to almost anything that leads one away from balance which means away from HaShem. In this month of Elul, which relates to purification like the true meaning of Virgo - Virgin - Betulah, Health means purification through cleansing.
Ancient Tribal Connection: Zevulan זבולן To the ancients the meaning of the Name Zevulan meant "Flow of Gift." There was only one true meaning of Gift and that is the Gift of Torah. The tribal land of Zevulan was near the sea-the sea from which came the dye from the sea snail that produced the color Techellet used in the one blue string used for the Tziztit. Zevulan used this "wealth" to assist his brother tribe of Yissachar when their crop failures made life for them difficult. Of course, Yissachar and Zevulan were never far from the idea that they were the cause of these crop failures. This is what all of us must do as we review our past year, our past life, and our past lifetimes to determine what is causing the chaos in our lives. Remember there is always chaos even if it is reaching in our pockets for two coins and bringing out only one.
Modern Tribal Connection: גד See below for the true essence of the Tribe of Gad and how to apply this to your Teshuvah.
Tribal Totem: Seashore יבשה Yabashaw When you think of the seashore do you "see" sandy beaches or rocky ones? Permutate the letters of Yabashaw. One gets Shev Yah. Sit HaShem. Does this mean HaShem sits or HaShem brings comfort? The seashore is a paradox. Water ends and land begins or Land ends and water begins. How do you reconcile the paradoxes of life for yourself? This is what Elul is about.
Tribal Stone: Diamond /Crystal יהלם Yehalom Diamonds are a unique stone in our world. It appears to have great value as an investment / desire. Yet this value is an illusion propped up by a cartel. At the same time it is known as one of the hardest substances in the world. Just as the Virgo applies harsh judgment against other people it is better to do so against ourselves. There is much to learn from contemplating the Diamond in our world.
Tribal Herb: Cassia קציעה KetziAh When permutated Ketziah can be translated as "the upper worlds" and "see the end". This is similar to the seashore - a paradox. Contemplate this well.
House: Illness בית החולי Bait HaCholi This house of illness is a caution reminder. As we share ourselves during this month of Elul we find many possibilities to share too much and thereby drain ourselves. This is a month to be aware of our limitations especially as it relates to pursuing ourselves.
Zodiac Sign: Betulah בתולה Betulah.See below for information about the Zodiac sign of Betulah. Why do you think the world has always valued a Virgin? Is it related to purity or inexperience? Does inexperience mean potential?
Tribal Flag: White with an image of a Seafaring Boat לבן Lavan White represents purity yet a boat represents something else-that of exploring, commerce, and experience among other aspects.
Tribal Direction: קדם and מזרח Kedem and Mizrach There are two words in Hebrew that means East. One word - Kedem has the meaning of "beginning" and the other word Mizrach has the meaning of "shining." Both relate to the rising of the sun. These are the same directions associated with Av. The physical reason has to do with the brotherhood relationship between Issachar and Zevulan, yet it is difficult to know the spiritual cause of this direction similarity.
The month of Elul is the sixth month of the Hebrew year. The number six relates to Yesod in the frame of the Seven Lower Sefirot and there is a distinct relationship between Yesod and Malchut. The next month of Tishrai also relates to this period as we will discuss below.
The month of Elul is an acronym for a famous phrase from a verse from Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs). The phrase is אני לדודי ודודי לי. This is usually translated as "I am to my Beloved as My Beloved is to Me!" This month has a significant relationship to the next month of Tishrai as well. During the month of Tishrai we have 22 days of Holiday while there is no known holiday during Elul. There are many days of high energy in Elul as we will discuss below.
There is a significant Kabbalah tool, to utilize the first letter of phrases and verses to receive deeper insights about different things. As we see from the above paragraph the first letters of the phrase Ani Lidodi Vedodi Li spells the word Elul. The last letters are all Yoods. This relates to the phrase of "Because I am HaShem Your Healer" which appears in the Torah with 4 Yoods in that phrase. Also, there are 4 Yoods in the spelled out Name of HaShem when the letters are spelled out with Yoods. This indicates that the month of Elul is filled with both healing energy which is the effect of teshuvah and wisdom which is the effect of the spelled out Name of HaShem of 72.
During Elul there are many significant rituals that are involved with the process of Teshuvah, that of returning to HaShem and going "Back to the Future." These rituals are the saying of Psalm 27 starting on Rosh Chodesh Elul, the reading and studying of the Tikunei Zohar from Rosh Chodesh Elul through Yom Kippur (a total of 40 days), the saying of Slichot from the second day of Elul until Yom Kippur, and the blowing of the Shofar each day from the second of Elul until the day prior to Rosh Hashanah.
The Ashkenazi Minhag (custom) is to say Slichot from the last Motzei Shabbat prior to Rosh HaShanah, providing there is at least 4 days of Slichot prior to Rosh HaShanah. The Sefardi Minhag is to say the Slichot a full month prior to Rosh HaShanah. The Ritual of Slichot will be discussed below as we said.
We will discuss all of these below.
The months of the Hebrew year are connected to the Tetragrammaton. The Kabbalists teach that Elul along with Av and Tammuz are connected to the upper Hey. In Kabbalah the upper Hey represents Binah also called Emma or Mother. The Mother gives birth to all of the six attributes of Zeir Anpin. She represents the seed level for these six attributes. The Kabbalists teach that these attributes are the emotive passions or emotions.
When we permutate the word Elul in Hebrew we learn that the energy of Elul is also connected to the phrase "And Teach (about) God." To activate this energy we need to understand the concept that the Kabbalists teach regarding the phrase "I am to my Beloved as My Beloved is to Me." The Kabbalists teach that this indicates that HaShem is closer to the physical world during this month meaning it is easier to get close to HaShem.
Let me explain a little more. Kabbalah teaches a metaphor that when we do something wrong we separate the letters of the Name. This is also explained that "we are leaving HaShem" because we are related to the lower Hey which is the letter that is separated by our negative action. WE ALL LEAVE HASHEM AT ONE TIME OR ANOTHER.
Another metaphor taught by the Jewish Religion is that during Elul HaShem is not in his palace but is in the garden. They relate that it is easier to approach the King when He is in the Garden rather than when He is in his Palace behind all the guards. That is why it is easier to do Teshuvah during the month of Elul.
We also must learn that this "easier to do Teshuvah" also takes a process of cleansing and building our desire. We will discuss all of this below.
Here are the Letters of the month and the Tetragrammaton Permutation for the Month of Elul ר י ההוי
Now, let's look at the permutation of the Tetragrammaton for the month of Elul and what we can learn.
The Tetragrammaton is normally spelled יהוה. When the Yood is in the first position. The first position is normally considered the World of Atzilut (Emanation). The second position normally has a Hey and is considered the world of Brea (Creation). The third position normally has a Vav and is considered the World of Yetzirah (Formation). The fourth position normally has a Hey and is considered the world of Assiya (Action or Manifestation).
All of these worlds in the paragraph above relate to descriptions and teachings in Kabbalah. They are metaphors to help us understand and relate to these worlds that we do not see with our physical senses.
The word that is the Tetragrammaton is actually the Hebrew verb "to be" in a conjugated form. The Yood at the beginning of a Hebrew verb indicates action. Therefore, the Name of God translates into English as "Active Being." The ultimate essence of "Active Being" is transcendent power of love and compassion without regard to people's merit.
This normal permutation which is used in the month of Nissan puts the Name of God in its normal, proper, and optimal placement to provide for the maximum flow of the Beneficence of HaShem. In essence the Yood, in the World of Atzilut, allows for a concentrated point of connection to the World of Ain Sof or Endless World. The upper Hey in Beria expands to support actual Birthing and Creation. The Vav then channels this energy of Creation into the final Hey in the World of Malchut which is Manifestation.
When we look at the permutation for Elul, we see the two Heys are in the first two positions. This indicates the concept of expansion of the flow, providing there is no restriction/narrowing available in the lower two positions. The third position is occupied by the Vav which is its normal position while the Yood in the fourth position represents a lack in this month in the physical world. With the Heys expanding the flow in the upper worlds and the Yood minimizing the flow to the physical world we learn that we have the opportunity to draw the expanded flow down through introspection. Of course we learn this also through the tool of Teshuvah which is based on introspection.
It will be most beneficial to be reflective during this month rather that active.
The letter Reish created the planet Mercury. The letter Reish can be either Rosh meaning head or Rash meaning poor depending on the vowels used. It actually depends on the consciousness of the person connecting to this letter in a meditation. The planet Mercury always faces the sun with the same side of the planet. One side is always too hot and jumpy like the Gemini and one side is always facing toward the cold of space like the Virgo. This is where the constant judgment and detail orientation of the Virgo comes from.
The Yood created the constellation we call Betulah בתולה which means Virgin. The English Name for this constellation is Virgo. The essence of Virgo is virginity and purity. Yood symbolizes richness and the highest level of consciousness.
The gematria of the Reish and Yood together is 210. This is the name Ehyeh (Aleph Hey Yood Hey) in its perfected form of ten Sefirot (10 x 21). Ehyeh is a Name connected to the Sefirah of Binah. 210 is also the gematria of the word Redo רדו. Redo means to go down and is used in the Torah describing Avraham's descent to Egypt. 210 is also the length of the actual exile and building of the Jewish Nation in Egypt for 210 years. One more aspect of going down. HaShem goes down to be closer to us during Elul. HaShem becomes more available and HaShem sends us different aspect of ourselves where we made a mistake in an earlier lifetime. This Elul as different people return to our lives we can choose to change what we do and how we do it when we deal with these past life people in our lives.
This idea of going down helps us understand the illusion built into our physical world. The exile in Egypt was to last 400 years. It actually lasted 210 years. The Sages say that it started with the birth of Isaac in order to explain the discrepancy. Yet that is difficult to understand since Isaac never left the Land of Israel during his lifetime. In my opinion, the following is the purpose of this discrepancy. It appears that a shorter period of time of exile would be better. Yet this 190 years indicate that the nation was not yet ready for the redemption. HaShem ordered the Redemption early due to the over bearance of the Egyptian Nation. Yet the shorter development of the nation meant that the 10 mistakes would be made by the nation and that meant a longer fourth exile (which we are presently experiencing). The illusion is not always the best alternative.
There are no actual Holidays in Elul except each day is a high energy day as we will see below. Also, the birth of the universe takes place on the 25th of Elul. This year that starts the evening of Sunday September 13 2020. This would be a good time to light a candle for the Yom Echad of Creation.
During Elul we do various rituals that are designed to elevate our consciousness. The energy of the month is connected to purity as well. All of this makes the days of Elul higher Energy Days. One of the rituals is blowing the Shofar each day during the month except Rosh Chodesh Elul and Erev Rosh Chodesh Tishrai.
Another ritual is to say Psalm 27 every day in Elul starting on the second of Elul and stopping on Yom Kippur. This is done as a form of praise of HaShem. This Psalm consists of 14 Verses which is the gematria of the Name David and also the gematria of the word Yad which means Hand. 14 is a number that connects to the Sefirah of Malchut (Kingdom).
Another ritual is to read or scan the Tikunei Zohar completely over the 40 days from Rosh Chodesh Elul through Yom Kippur. The Tikunei Zohar is considered the holiest portion of the Zohar. It is a series of 70 essays reportedly written by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai himself while he was in the Cave for 13 years hiding from the Romans and learning the spiritual essence of the Torah from the souls of Eliyahu HaNavi and Moshe Rabeinu. These 70 essays are 70 explanations and permutations of the word Beraishit.
Also, every day of Elul through Yom Kippur we do the ritual of Slichot. Slichot is a very misunderstood ritual. The surface level and meaning of the word Slichot comes from the Shoresh סלח. Slach translates as forgive, pardon, or excuse. The Kabbalists teach that the gematria of Slach is 98 which is the Hebrew word Tzach צח. Tzach means cleansing. The Kabbalah teaches that the ritual of Slichot is performing the process of cleansing and purifying in anticipation of reaching the forgiveness associated with Yom Kippur. This forgiveness is actually the reaching of a level of purity that allows those who know how to reach the cosmic level of Binah which then can be changed to transform the year ahead to only positive and remove all forms of chaos.
The ritual of Slichot uses three distinct tools to cleanse and purify. They are the Shofar, the lower level of The 13 Attributes of Mercy, and the Hebrew Alef Bet in order. This ritual brochure for Slichot comes from the website www.Kabbalah4All.com
This Slichot file is a smaller version of what is said by the Sefardi Minhag. Yet it is a good starting system.
Please remember that when we say prayers that are in the order of the Alef Bet we metaphorically and actually put our physical world in order including positive and eliminating negative.
Our Tzadikim have given us a great tool. Themselves! Their Hilulah is the opportunity to utilize their connection to the Creator to make our connection easier. The method we use is to light a Yahrzeit candle (25 hour candle) and learn about the Sage. This strengthens our connection to the Tzadik and through that connection allows us to reach the Creator more easily.
It is recommended that one mentions the Names of the Tzadikim every evening at the start of your evening prayer connection or just prior to going to sleep each evening.
Here are the connections to the Tribe for the month and the Leader of that Tribe from our website, with information about the Nasi and the attributes dealing with this month.
The Tribe for the month of Elul is the
I suggest you spend some time during this month checking out the attributes of the name Gad and the Name of the Nasi who gave the dedication and his consciousness of why he gave what he gave. Remember not all of these attributes are positive and with the tool of "Binding by Striking" we can correct them and transform them into positive aspects.
Here are strategies to adopt for this month of Elul.
1. Do a Spiritual Accounting for the past year. Review, Reflect, and experience again all that happened to you and with you in the past year. What relations were strengthened and what relations were diminished during this past year. What happened to you, what were the highlights of each season, and also what were the low points in your year. What remains unfinished in your relations from this year. What projects have you completed and what do you need to complete in your projects.
2. Add / Increase Forgiveness as part of your daily spiritual practice. One technique is to imagine yourself on your deathbed. How important are the issues you are holding onto in that perspective? People find it easier to let go from this position. Also, imagine people that are difficult in your life on their death bed. What would you say to them if you will never have another chance to speak to them?
3. Send New Year Notes. This practice is helpful to send people Blessings. This is an easy practice in our technological age. Just do it with love and not as a chore.
4. Bless people with a Happy and Healthy New Year. Add this wish for a good year in every conversation during the month. Or include a long meditative Blessing that will transfer the energy of Blessing to more and more people. As you Bless so shall you be Blessed is the spiritual law.
5. Make sure you increase your reading/study/scanning of the Tikunei Zohar. Definitely add this to your spiritual practice. The Tikunei Zohar will elevate, cleanse, and purify your soul.
The spiritual actions of cleansing that one does during Elul lead to the practical aspect of changing the year ahead to not be like the past year. Did you have a good year, do you want it to repeat exactly as it did this year? Then you should not change anything about yourself. Yet most of us realize that we still have chaos and need to change something. Whatever we change during the Month of Elul will impact the energy we receive on Rosh Hashanah and therefore, the way the year ahead manifests in our life. When you clean your house (spiritual essence) during Elul you clean your chaos from the year ahead.
[Note:The following paragraph pertained to the Shemitta Year. 5775.]. It is recommended that one reads about the year ahead from a Kabbalistic Perspective. We have an opening to manifest Mashiach Energy during the year 5775. This is due to the year being a Shemitta year and other energies explained in the following link.
If your lunar north node is in the Zodiac sign of Virgo, then your Tikune is in Virgo.
If you do not know where your north node is within your astrological chart send me your birth date birth location and birth time to email@example.com. I will send you information on how to find your north node and your personal Tikune.
In the words of the Kabbalah Center:
Like the Piscean you were in your former life, you have been consumed by your dreams and fantasies and have paid dearly for your melodramatic inclinations. Nourished on tragic stories, you totally lacked the capacity to discern between right and wrong, between good and bad. Confronted with numerous obstacles, you often just let things happen. When they didn’t work out, you succumbed to self-pity.
In your previous life, you were heavily dependent on others. But your sensitivity to pain inhibited you from relieving that pain. This same emotional fragility may have led you to seek refuge in drugs or alcohol or other head-in-the-sand behaviors. Your intuition may have allowed you to act for others with the intention of helping them, but you were never completely free of a sort of self-interest. You had talent in the arts and you could have been a famous musician or painter. Many of your “good deeds” were a pretext for receiving gratitude.
To make your correction, you must gain a more realistic and less hypersensitive view of the world. You must use more reason and less emotion in making your decisions. Self-discipline and determination will help keep your feet on the ground and extract you from overly dependent relationships. Most of all, you must stop letting things happen to you by taking responsibility for yourself. You must learn to speak your mind both for your own benefit and for others. Essentially, you must stop whining.
This lifetime affords you an opportunity to settle accounts, forgive, and move on. Reflection will be your new tool for tackling problems, but action will put you on the road to your correction. If you succeed in establishing values within yourself and get your head out of the melodramatic clouds, you will be able to turn your attention toward creating.
If you succeed in establishing more concrete values, detach yourself from emotions, gain independence from those around you, and stick with your desires long enough, you will know love and inner peace. This will help you to seize opportunities, overcome obstacles, and manifest your dreams in the real world. Preserving relationships at all costs and always compromising have not proven to be the right solution for you. Your new motto should be “here and now.” This will help you to seize opportunities, overcome obstacles, and manifest your dreams in the real world.
Just as the person born in Virgo sun sign has a tendency to see details and to constantly judge others, the energy of this month will tend to assist us in judging. It is important that we make those judgments of ourselves and not to utilize this energy to judge others.
One final point from the teachings of the Kabbalah: Any male born in the month of Virgo has the Tikune of correcting an accidental death in previous lifetimes. This is due to the fact that the Virgo is given a tool of being able to see details and to pay attention to the details that happen around him. When he sees these details he must take care in making sure he does not cause and accidental death of a human being again.
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