Elul – the name itself brings with it a wind of humility and self-reflection. It evokes the sound of the shofar and the yamim noraim beckoning us to become a bit more refined and sensitive to spiritual matters.
Our cynical side says, “Yeah, yeah – you felt the same way last year.” That thought is both destructive and misses the point. The calendar year is like a spiral staircase. There are many floors, and one uses the staircase to ascend from floor to floor. Interestingly, though, when leaving one floor and heading to the next, one must totally turn away before heading back to the same side, one level up.
Each year, we cycle back through the calendar, repeating each month and each of the yamim tovim. Although there may be times we feel like we are “turning our backs” on the spiritual elation felt during the previous Tishrei, in reality, this is part of ascending the staircase of life. The experiences we had during 5777, even the mundane ones, are ulitimately part of our ascending to the next year, 5778.
The first Chabad Rebbe, Rav Shneur Zalman of Liadi, explains that Elul is likened to a king passing through the fields on the way back to the city. It is a time when all who wish can greet the king without the usual constraints of appointments. So too with us: Elul is a time the King of all kings allows us to approach Him more easily, asking for the fulfillment of our needs. We then “follow the King back to the city and palace,” including the innermost chamber of Yom Kippur.
May the “wind of Elul” inspire us to become better people and may the King decide that the time has come to reunite with His people in an open and revealed way with the coming of Moshiach.
Wishing you a wonderful and inspiring Shabbos Mevorchim Elul,