Welcome Home

Friday, 20 August, 2010 - 9:49 am

This past week, during my monthly visit to the Federal Correctional Center in Oakdale, LA, I saw something that I had not seen over the 12 years that I have been going there. I saw a child. This child was standing just outside the prison gates holding a balloon that read Welcome Home! I surmised that her father was being released from prison and she was there to welcome him and bring him home.

As I thought about this incident in light of the Baal Shemtov's instruction to derive a lesson from every encounter in life, I realized that the "Welcome Home Balloon" sums up the month of Elul. The great master of Kabbala, Rabbi Isaac Luria, uses the analogy of a safe haven or "city of refuge" when describing the month of Elul. All year, he explains, we are in the clutches of, or at least being pursued by, our evil inclination. We struggle with our drive toward things that counter the will of G-d. The month of Elul is a safe haven - a refuge from those struggles. A time when we focus on and strengthen our connection to G-d.

It is as if G-d stands at the "gates of Elul" with a balloon that reads "Welcome Home." Indeed the famous parable of the "King in the Field" conveys this very idea. That our King - G-d comes out to the field and greets us with a smile that says, "Welcome Home."

Just as it is the hope that the little girl's father will not return to the circumstances that led him to prison, so to we need to see to it that the our "Welcome Home" from G-d will help us be "home" for good. 

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