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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It states in Shir Hashirim, 6:3, “I am to my friend, and my friend is to me”. The acronym in Hebrew spells the word Elul which describes the atmosphere in this month like no other month. It is a month of immense love between HaShem and His nation.
The month of Elul is actually a great opportunity. It is the time when Moshe Rabeinu, through his prayers accomplished forgiveness for Klal Yisrael for the Golden Calf and received the thirteen attributes.
The Talmud says that the word Elul means probing. This is our work in this month, to look within. Looking within means looking at things you don’t like about yourself and making a commitment to change during the upcoming year.
Making meaningful change is most probably one of the hardest things to do in life and that is one of the reasons HaShem gave us Elul. The closeness we have with HaShem in Elul makes it easier to make these changes. In a way, HaShem changes the rules in our favor to make it easier.
Rabbi Avigdor Miller says: Everything one does in Elul is therefore counted as “double points” so as to speak. Whatever one does to better himself in Elul should be done with this in mind.
I recently heard a shiur where the Rabbi asked a very interesting question. He was talking about Elul and teshuvah. He said that Elul is the month to do teshuvah, to try and change ourselves for the upcoming year. The questions he asked his class was:
“Are you a different person today from the same time last year? Did you change besides being one year older? Did you do the things you promised yourself last Elul and Rosh Hashanah? Were you able to manifest your goals?”
In the secular world, people make New Years resolutions on January 1. Most time these don’t last and one falls back into their bad habits. If this is the case, what is the benefit of teshuvah? Is teshuvah just lip service? We know that HaShem knows our innermost thoughts. If so, how can we expect to con HaShem?
What is this all about?
Please stop for a minute and reflect on the last year and see if you have changed?
The Rabad, referred to Elul as a time of “Eit Ratzon/time of mercy or desire. Eit Ratzon is a very special time. Eit Ratzon connects directly to the Sefirah of Keter and Elul is a very good time to bring down blessings for the new year. How do we do this???
The Gaon of Vilna said that the main reason we came to this world is to improve/change our middot(character traits). Elul is the perfect time to prepare for the upcoming year.
Prayer and Teshuvah are the means through which a person can recreate himself. If one changes their behavior, then they become a different individual altogether.
“Great is teshuvah, for it brings healing to the world”, Yoma 86b.
Teshuvah is equal to all the Mitzvot.
The concept of teshuvah/repentance is so far above human comprehension. Why? It is one of the biggest Chokim. A chok is a law which we have to follow, however, is very difficult for humans to understand. Some of them are, meat and milk, the red heifer and Shatnez. Why is teshuvah a chok? In the physical world if a person is caught by the police for doing a serious offense, and he goes to court and tells the judge he is sorry and won’t do it again, the judge will never let him off. However, in the spiritual world, when we do teshuvah, (we are truly sorry for what we have done), Hashem looks into our heart to see if we are serious and not just doing lip service. This is the key to teshuvah, as we can’t hide anything from Hashem. If Hashem decides to give us a second chance, He wipes the slate clean. This is mind boggling to think that we can be forgiven just like that for our sins. This is the reason we cannot comprehend the value of teshuvah.
A conventional understanding of teshuvah would suggest that one can do wrongful deeds all year long and come to Shul on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and ask for forgiveness. People think they can evade the consequences of their actions over the past 12 months. But can we really expect to be forgiven for our sins simply by saying some prayers on these holidays. This is definitely not teshuvah. We can see that repentance is not a ritual that we do once a year like matzah and sukkah. Repentance takes us back to our source and we are able to make changes for the next year. It is a very powerful gift that HaShem gave us to guarantee a good year. use it!!!
Remember there can be no growth spirituality without honesty. Humans have an incredible ability to con themselves. We will make up the biggest stories in our minds and before long we will have convinced ourselves that we are perfect and don't need to change, only our friends have to change. Many people who are Baal Teshuvah’s think that they have already done Teshuvah once when they came back to HaShem many years ago, and now don’t need to do it again. Teshuvah is not something we do once or once a year, it is something we have to do every single day. At the end of each month day we are supposed to look at our actions of that day, make an accounting and repent for ones that were not so good.
We also have to have the desire to do teshuvah. Many people don’t want to change their bad habits. Take for an example a person who smokes. He knows it is very bad for him, yet he does not stop. He makes excuses that he enjoys it or it calms him down. Please understand, I have simplified the process, but the basic message is that we have to stop doing things that we are doing wrong. Simple!!!!!
Also know that Elul includes the whole of the next year in it. What we do in Elul is going to affect Rosh Hashanah and the whole of the next year.
Elul is a very interesting month. Officially it belongs to the year that is finishing, yet it is completely connected to the upcoming new year. How is this possible?
It is written that after the fifteenth of Av, Heaven begins preparing the chairs in the upper courts for Rosh Hashanah and it is a good time to start doing teshuvah.
Summer is drawing to a close. In the world of nature, especially in the very cold climates, all the animals are very busy at this time getting ready for the upcoming winter. They have to make exact plans for food or otherwise they won't survive the harsh winter. They take this time very seriously. They know instinctively what to do and how to prepare. It says that the fish in the sea tremble when Elul comes around. Every animal is seeking to do while there is still time left, because the Master will call. When we say this, we mean that Rosh Hashanah will come around and everybody will have to answer for the last year. We must remember, on Rosh Hashanah we are judged at the level where we are at that moment. What we did in the last year has brought us to that point.
In nature, obedience is the rule. All of nature stands around Hashem's throne, each one bringing Hashem the product of it's labor. No animal or plant would dare to go against it's nature. Nature has rules and the animals have to follow them. This is a definite.
Only man can be enticed from his set path. Man is casual and inattentive and ignores the seriousness of this time. The animals shiver with fear that Hashem won't destroy the world because of man.
With free will, man has to choose with his own intellect what is right or wrong. He has the power to go against what is right(nature).
This is one of the reasons we start to blow the shofar the beginning of Elul, to wake us up. In the old days, people used to faint at just the mention of the word Elul. The shofar speaks a language. It is telling us; do teshuvah and change your ways. We just need to understand the language of the shofar.
Elul is a gift from Hashem. Nobody would dare go into a court case in the physical world without preparing. A persons lawyer would be interviewing witnesses, checking facts etc. Elul is the time for preparation for Rosh Hashanah.
Hashem made it easy for us to do teshuvah in Elul. Chazal says that in Elul, “the King is in the fields”. What does this mean? During the rest of the year, if a person wants to do teshuvah, he has to go to Hashem. The analogy is the person has to make an appointment with Hashem, go to him and present his case. In Elul it is different. Hashem makes it easy for us and He comes to us, “the King is in the fields”. Wherever we are, Hashem is listening and waiting for us every second.
One of the ways the Tzadikkim suggest we should prepare for Rosh Hashanah is to write two lists, one with what we want from Hashem for the new year and the other with things we intend to do for Hashem, example, more charity, more learning and davening etc, in the new year. Write down ten things on each list. With the list for Hashem, try to put down things that we have been trying to do for years. Things like, trying to change a bad character trait, to do mitzvot better, to get healthier, go to the gym etc. On the other list put down things you want from Hashem. Things like better parnasah, health, nachas from the children etc.
Think about ways you can achieve your goals. Read the list on Rosh Hashanah and also read it every day. You most probably won’t achieve the ten things for Hashem. It is doubtful if you can achieve half, but if you achieve one or two, guaranteed you will have a good year. It seems like this is kind of childish, but believe me it is a very powerful tool to do teshuvah. If you read it everyday, slowly the things on the list will become imprinted on your consciousness and change will become possible.
Elul is the month of perfection, HaShem’s purpose in creation. The word in Hebrew for the zodiac sign this month is Betula, which means virgin, the same as the English word, Virgo which is connected to virgin, which implies purity. In this month we have the ability to cleanse ourselves of a lot of dirt and become pure.
The tikkun/correction of people born in Elul is that they focus on details too much and don’t see the big picture. Virgo’s live in a world of fantasy and, because they have the ability to see perfection, they have the trait of judgement. They can’t understand why people can’t see things the way they do. Many Virgo’s are very particular about there possessions and are fanatical about keeping things neat and in order. I know some Virgo’s whose clothes are not only very neat and tidy but are all color coded. Look at a Virgo’s office or home and you will find everything perfectly in place. It is very difficult for a Virgo to live in a mess, it drives them crazy.
Virgos will quickly take over any situation, organizing everything with ease. They like things to operate perfectly.
Virgos are very reliable and responsible and hate things to be unfinished. They strive for perfection in whatever they do.
Virgo’s are not very sensitive to others and don’t have a lot of patience. Because they see perfection, Virgo’s also have a bit of a superiority complex. Try not to pass judgement in this month. It is easy to find faults in people if we look closely. Don’t be sensitive to criticism. Let go of your selfish desires.
The test of judgement is for everybody in this month. If we don’t judge people then when we come to Rosh Hashanah, we will be shown the same compassion by Heaven and hopefully will be rewarded with a good year. It is very difficult not to judge, but now is the time, in this month, to work on this middah.
Virgo is the sixth and last of the masculine months/signs of the year. Virgo is an earth sign and is center of the three earth signs. Earth symbolizes the realm of action, which is the nature of this month.
The Name of HaShem this month is:
Kei Kei Vav Yud, which brings expansiveness in the Upper Worlds. The female letters, the two Kei’s, precede the two masculine letters, the Vav and the Yud. This symbolizes the spiritual work from below, in order to arouse the Divine response from above. The flow of Divine influence is cut off due to our negative deeds. The way to reconnect is through our Teshuvah, which is easier this month, as mentioned above.
The letters of the month are Reish and Yud. Yud is the first letter of HaShem’s Name and represents wisdom/Chochmah. The Sefer Yetzirah says that the letter Yud is the King in the realm of action.
Rabbi Matatiyahu Glazerson in his book, Above the Zodiac, explains that the winter months complement the summer months. Adar is the winter month which corresponds to Elul. During Adar we have the holiday of Purim, which is a time of the highest form of penance; returning to HaShem out of love for Him. The month of Elul marks a lower form of penance; return to HaShem out of awesomeness. This is indicated by the letter of the month, the Yud, which symbolizes wisdom, as it is written; “At the beginning of wisdom is fear of HaShem,” Psalms 3:10. This wisdom and appreciation of awe arises out of one’s work of contemplation, the main spiritual service of this month.
Reish created the planet Kocav/Mercury and Yud created the astrological sign, Virgo. Mercury is the closet planet to the sun and it takes only 84 days to go around the sun, approximately a quarter the time it takes the earth to go around the sun. It is also the planet of communications. Mercury or quicksilver, is extremely sensitive to temperature variations and consequently reacts very quickly to them
The name Kocav in Hebrew is spelt;
Kaf Vav Kaf Bet.
Kaf Vav has a numerology of 26, which is same as the name of HaShem.
Kaf Bet has a numerology of 22, which represents the 22 Hebrew letters. Through the Hebrew letters we are able to reconnect.
The line from the Ana Becoach is the sixth line(Yesod), which has to do with our times(sixth millennium). Yosef HaTzadik is connected to this line. He was the conduit to draw down miracles. There is also a deep secret to this line of the Ana Becoach. It also deals with how the angels do their jobs, their secret. They run with happiness to fulfill the Will of Hashem. This line gives us the ability to run to do Mitzvot like angels.
When the Children of Israel at Mount Sinai said, “we will do and we will listen”, Hashem said to the angels, “Who taught my children the secret of the angels”, Shabbos 88a.
As mentioned, when the Children of Israel said, “we will do and we will see”, Hashem said to the angels who taught them that secret, which is only known to the angels. What is this big secret? The secret is that when an angel gets a job from Hashem, it does not ask questions. It just goes and does it. On the other hand, humans want all the details before they commit to something. If we want to tap into this energy of angels, we have to become like the angels, just follow the Torah and don’t question Hashem. Shrink physicality. Take as little time as possible to do the mitzvah, don’t give the yetzer hara time to take hold.
Take this point to heart, be like the angels. It will help you a lot. The Ramchal says that alacrity, quickness to do things, is one of the best character traits to acquire. Why? In his book, The Path of the Just, the Ramchal states that the possession of this trait of Zeal(alacrity) constitutes an extremely high level of spiritual development. A persons nature prevents him from attaining this because the physical world is controlled by gravity which pulls us down. In this month, with this line of the Ana Becoach, we can get the strength to overcome our nature and run to do Mitzvot.
Surely Hashem knows what He is doing. This is the hard part, to have simple faith and not to question HaShem.
This is the power of this line. Try and just trust HaShem with simple faith, and you will see miracles in your life.
Many of the Chassidic Rebbes did not see people during the month of Elul because they said they didn’t have the time. They said Elul is a time to work on oneself. One Rebbe described it as follows; “At the end of the year, every merchant reassess his expenses and profits. He needs to see whether his business is losing money or gaining. At the end of the year, every Yid must make a similar evaluation.”
The Panim Yafos zt’l teaches: there are twelve hours by daytime. Hashem compassionately considers each hour of Elul to be like a day. Thus, in the thirty days of Elul, one can attain atonement for the entire year. Because 12 X 30 = 360.
Moshe Rabeinu went up to Heaven three times, each time for 40 days and 40 nights. The first time he went up was the 7th of Sivan, the second time on the 18th of Tammuz and the third time on Rosh Chodesh Elul.
On Rosh Chodesh Elul he received atonement for Bnei Yisrael for the golden calf. HaShem taught him the 13 Attributes of Mercy. He opened up the gates of penance for Elul and was taught that Teshuvah fixes everything.
The Gemara say:
Teshuvah is great; it reaches Hashem's honored throne. Before Hashem's throne is Teshuvah. Teshuvah is for everyone. Regardless of what you did, one can repent, and Hashem will cherish your Teshuvah. Our entire status changes when we do Teshuvah. We become different people and when the Satan looks for us on Rosh Hashanah, he can’t find us because we are a totally different person. It is very hard to do Teshuvah, because change is so difficult to make. We must not be satisfied with a small degree of success. We must keep going until we change completely.
The Shevet HaLevi(vol. 4 55), said that Yismach Moshe zy'a, had a dream where he was told that castigations and fasts are not necessary, because the greatest castigation of all is CHANGE itself. To succeed to change oneself, one must endure many hardships. Such a person has already received his castigations. He doesn't need anything else such as fasts.
Let’s ask the question, what actually is teshuvah? We say it is repentance but what is repentance? It is very simple. Stop doing the negative thing or things that we have been doing.
CHANGE OUR BAD HABITS!!!
It sounds easy but is actually very difficult. To change our nature is the most difficult thing in this world for us to do.
What is a habit ???
A habit is something that you have done so many times, your body knows how to do it better than your mind. Look at a person who bites their nails or has some other twitch and you will see that their body just does it automatically. They don’t even know they are doing it.
95% of who we are by 35 years old are a memorized set of behaviors that function like a computer, you keep doing them over and over. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I think this is not only the definition of insanity but also the definition of a habit.
To break a habit you need to impress on your subconscious a new thought pattern. This is a very difficult thing to do. First you have to break the old habit and then imprint on the subconscious the opposite to what you were doing.
It is not easy, in fact it is extremely difficult. It takes an enormous effort and most importantly it doesn’t happen overnight.
The hardest part of changing is not making the same choices one made yesterday, thereby changing our programs. When one makes a different choice, it is uncomfortable. Being in the unknown is a scary place.
People are very scared of the future. They fear the worst outcomes and it ruins their peace of mind. Studies have shown how much people dislike uncertainty. People would rather get an electric shock now than be shocked at a later time. The stress of the unknown is even more uncomfortable than the pain now. This is the nature of a human being.
Most people live 70% of their lives with stress, anticipating the worst case scenario. These scenarios are created from past experiences. By creating new choices, you are actually changing your future. This is the key to change. Start doing things different and you will see major changes and miracles in your life.
Every Rosh Hashanah, we are created anew and the world is new. Therefore, Rosh Hashanah is an ideal time to change one's behavior and ways, and to act like a completely new person. The actual reality is that you don't just act like a new person, but you are actually a new person. When you act differently, changing your habits, on Rosh Hashanah you become that new person because everything on Rosh Hashanah is created new. We can only become this new person if we have prepared ourselves in Elul.
There is a Gemara that says; if we don't know what we have, then it doesn't belong to us. In the old days, people used to faint at just the mention of the word Elul. The fear of the upcoming year was vivid in the behavior of the Tzadikkim. They took this time very seriously. We also recite Selichot during Elul. This is a beautiful prayer and helps us evoke feelings of repentance. The Sephardim say Selichot the whole month while the Ashkenazim say it the last week.
It also says that the fish in the sea tremble when Elul comes around. Take this opportunity to prepare for Rosh Hashanah and guaranteed Hashem will grant you a good year.
Take the example of the animals. Get ready now for the upcoming year. If you prepare properly for the new year in Elul, it will help you a great deal on Rosh Hashanah. Take advantage of this gift that HaShem gave us. It only comes around once a year.
We have to accept responsibility for our actions. Each and every one of us is responsible for our own success or failure. There is no free ride. In spirituality we have to earn everything.
Sefer Yetzirah tells us that Elul/Virgo gives us the opportunity to achieve control over our lives and to shape our destinies. In this month we literally have the power to go back in time to those moments we erred, fix them and then erase them and all the suffering they brought us. This is the power of this month. I beg you, take advantage of it. Please do a list.
The month of Elul/Virgo is the solution. Go back, become pure and have a great year.
The Tzadik knows that he might fall, but understands that it is ok, as long as he gets up. This is the important thing, to keep trying. Start over. New beginnings are very precious to HaShem. They connect us to a place called Atik, which is a very high level.
The goal is to fight and not give up. This is the process. The process is the goal, not the end result, because we don’t know how HaShem judges. Don’t worry about the end result. You will find out how you did when you come to the day of judgement in the upper worlds.
The Chazon Ish taught that HaShem loves it when a person strengthens himself to do HaShem’s Will even if it only lasts a moment. We know that science has proved that time doesn’t exist, so that moment is actually an eternity. This is a very big secret.
Elul provides a unique opportunity to jumpstart change and break free from negative momentum that may be dragging us down. At the heart of Elul lies the cry of the shofar, which we start to blow on Rosh Chodesh Elul. The Sofar is so far above us. humans. When we blow the Sofar on Rosh Hashanah, we shake the upper worlds. Everything except HaShem is scared. Never miss the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah. It can make a difference to your whole year.
Elul is also a time for making a Cheshbon HaNefesh/an accounting of his soul.
At the end of the year, every Yid must make an evaluation of their lives. He should consider his deeds of the previous year and see which of them are earning him a profit, and which are causing him a loss. What needs to be improved and what should be stopped altogether.
This is what Tzadikkim do in the month of Elul and usually don’t accept people because they are too busy. Try it for yourself. It will definitely help you on Rosh Hashanah.
People are very busy at this time and don’t find time for introspection. Most people are afraid of introspection because they don’t want to discover their faults. Therefore they seek ways to always be busy at this time, rather than being alone with their thoughts.
Remember: There can be no growth in spirituality without being honest with yourself. Everybody deep down knows their faults, but don’t want to admit it.
This is the most important thing about Elul, to look inside and see what you need to change. Take the time, it is worth it. You won’t regret it.
Another perspective on how hard it is to change.
From a shiur given by Rabbi Moshe Aaron Pinto.
There is a very interesting Gemara, Gitten 50:7.
It talks about Onkalos who was a ger(convert). He came from a very prominent Roman family and was involved in sorcery. He was able to bring up spirits. He brought up Titus harasha and Bilaam harasha.
He asked Titus, “Where is the truth in this physical world. Titus answered with the Jews. He then asked Titus; “Who is the chosen nation and Titus answered, the Jews. He then asked Titus, what is your punishment for hurting the Jews. Titus answered that every day he brings wood and they burn him to ashes which is very painful. He then asked Titus, should I become part of the Jews. The answer given by Titus was no, you should kill them, hurt them.
Onkolos then asked Bilaam the same questions. His punishment he said was that every day they put him in a pot of boiling water and boil him which is very painful. He then also asked Bilaam if he should become part of the Jews. Bilaam’s answer was the same as Titus, to kill them. This Gemara is very strange. Why?
Both of them were in the next world where the truth is known. They answered about the Jews the truth yet they still wanted to hurt them. How could they give this advice when they were suffering so much. The Gemara explains that this is the power of habit. They were so negative that even when they knew the truth, they could not change. This is the power of habit.
The Gemara goes on to talk about the other side. In Gan Eden there was a bat kol(Heavenly voice) that said a big Tzadik had just died, Yehoshua ben Levi and that he was coming to Gan Eden. His place was near Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai who was sitting on gold bricks. In heaven there is no more ego. If a person merits a reward, he gets it. This was Rabbi Shimon’s reward. Rabbi Shimon went over to Yehoshua ben Levi and asked him if there was ever a rainbow in his life, as there was never one in Rabbi Shimon’s life. There was not one in the life of Yehoshua ben Levi as he was a Tzadik Gamur(complete). Yet his answer surprises us. He said yes, there were many. How could he lie in the world of truth. He was so humble in his life on earth, then he couldn’t change even in the world of truth. Again we see the power of habit.
Teshuvah is a big deal. Why?
The Ramchal says that when a person sincerely uproots their desire to sin, they uproot the sinful deeds that they have done. Mistakes are not permanent, they can be undone with Teshuvah. When a person repents you reverse the sinful deed and can then move on.
We learn about Teshuvah from King David. He made mistakes in his life, but he always admitted them and did Teshuvah. This is one of the character traits that HaShem loved about David Hamelech, and because of this trait he became the chariot for the Sefirah of Malchut, this physical world. He is our role model. He showed us that repentance really works.
This is why Teshuvah is a big deal. The ability to ascend to a higher level than before the sin because of your Teshuvah. If one changes their behavior, then they become a completely different individual. Read this again and try to internalize it!!!
Everybody wants to be a better person. Everybody wants to do Teshuvah, so why don’t they???? The answer is that they don’t believe they will succeed. If they were certain that they would succeed, 100% they would do it.
Take for example a person who smokes. Ask most people who smoke and they will tell you that they would like to give up, so why don’t they. They don’t believe that they will succeed. We have to give our family, friends and other people encouragement.
This is very important!!!!!!!!!!!
Elul should not be a depressing month. We need to approach it with joy, an big opportunity to start new. This idea should give us the power to be happy. Coming close to HaShem can only be achieved through happiness.
The process of growing and moving forward must be the joy itself. The goal should be that one enjoys the growth itself.
We have to realize that growth does not come with one big step. We have to move slowly, one little step at a time. This is the only way it will remain. You have to grow with the change. If it happens in one big step, you don’t grow with the change and there is a good chance it won’t last. Be careful not to take steps that are beyond us. Also consistency is another key to making changes permanent. Consistency creates good habits which will help us reach our goals. Never lose sight of our goals. One of the most important lessons we can learn is to realize that the main goal in life is not to win. In today’s world everything is about winning, the bottom line, the end result, the score etc. First of all, we don’t know what winning is. Maybe our views of winning are distorted compared to Heavens. The main goal for us is to enjoy the process, the day to day struggle of life. Living in the present is a very big secret and we need to try and internalize this idea in our daily lives.
The present is where change happens.
Think about this for a moment. Don’t we live in the present every second of our lives. Isn’t it impossible to live in the future or the past. This is true of our bodies but not our minds. Even though our bodies are in the present our minds are able to roam anywhere we let it, past, present or future. This is the secret of living in the present, control your mind to focus on things that you have to do today. We have to be aware of our thoughts and our choices. We can’t blame anybody for our bad thoughts. Remember this!!!
Living in the present is so important.
Try it!!! You might like it.
Don’t wait anxiously for a big occasion so that you can be happy. Every day, we have many opportunities to be happy.
Stop and smell the roses, enjoy the chirping of the birds, do a Mitzvah, do Teshuvah, etc. Take advantage of them because, even though you might have more opportunities tomorrow, today’s opportunities will be gone forever.
Don’t wait for life to be easy before you decide to be happy!!!
Grab whatever you can. Use this month wisely.
HaShem gets a lot of nachas from each small step we take. If we would internalize this idea, that HaShem truly values our efforts and our Mitzvot, we would rejoice at every opportunity that comes our way to do the Will of HaShem.
David Hamelech writes in Tehillim that this idea is what gives us the willpower necessary to keep on climbing and reaching higher.
In Genesis 24:1, it states; “And Avraham was old, coming in his days, and HaShem blessed with with everything.” The Zohar asks what does it mean that “he came with his days?” Avraham utilized each day to the fullest in the service of HaShem, and therefore each day served as another rung to go higher, which is what brought him to the great madregah/level that he reached when he grew older. Let’s use the example of Avraham Aveinu and David Hamelech for us to reach higher levels in our spiritual growth. Elul is the perfect time to accomplish this.
Elul is an ideal time for prayer.
Pray a lot so you will come to Rosh Hashanah with a pure heart.
People go to listen to many lessons on Elul and Teshuvah. They run around the whole month but there is something missing. What is that? Actual change. Implementing the ideas one heard at these lessons. Make sure Elul doesn’t end with good intentions but without results. Change has to take place.
Yotzheit’s in this month.
13th: Rabbi Yosef Chaim, Ben Ish Chai from Iraq.
20th: Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, Rosh Yeshiva and founder of the Ponevezher Yeshiva.
24th: Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagen, Chofetz Chaim. He gave us one of the most comprehensive works on Lashon Hara.
25th, Day of Creation: Rabbi Elazar ben Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai
This is a very powerful day. First it is the day of creation. The first of anything is the seed and root of that event. In the seed is the whole manifestation. Being the day of creation, every event in the world is in included in this day, for example: the going out of Egypt, the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, both Temples and most important, the coming of Mashiach, May he come soon. Rabbi Elazar was with his father in the cave for thirteen years. They were taught the secrets of the Torah from both Moshe Rabeinu and Eliyahu Hanavi. Make sure you connect to this energy on this day.
26th: Rabbi Chaim Pinto HaGadol of Mogador, Morocco. He was known as a big miracle worker.
Chodesh Tov and Shana Tova.
Have a great month and year.
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 Tuesday September 20 2022. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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