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I am to my beloved and that's it!

Friday, 14 August, 2015 - 1:42 pm

We are about to begin the month of Elul on the Jewish calendar. Our sages famously point out that the Hebrew word Elul (Alef Lamed Vov Lamed) is the acronym for the verse from Song of Songs 6:3, Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li – I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me. This passage is spoken in the voice of the Jewish people who proclaim their love and devotion to Hashem to the exclusion of all else.

By association, the month of Elul is a good time to examine the degree of our devotion and love to Hashem. To understand this let us explore what Ani L’dodi – I am to my beloved – would mean in a human relationship – a marriage. When a person declares that “I am to my beloved” that should mean that whatever thoughts, feelings, communications and actions define their relationship – their marriage – should be reserved solely for their spouse and no other.

In a similar sense, Ani L’dodi that we say to Hashem should mean that any experience that would intersect our relationship with Hashem should be exclusively within the parameters of how Hashem defines that relationship for us. In simple terms, Hashem gave us a Torah filled with instructions on how we can maintain our connection to Him. A Jew who proclaims Ani L’dodi (and every Jew does so deep within their core essence) must not seek any type of fulfillment in life from anything that is antithetical to the structure set forth for us in the Torah.

Just as a healthy marriage would not have one spouse seeking marital fulfillment (whether emotional, physical or whatever it may be) outside of the spousal relationship, so to a Jew should not seek fulfillment in life from something outside of the relationship with Hashem.

The verse continues, Ha’roeh Ba’shoshanim – who feeds among the roses. Indeed in Jewish literature, a person who seeks fulfillment in life outside of their devotion to Hashem, is referred to as “grazing in foreign pastures.” The declaration of Ani L’dodi means that I cease to even entertain the notion that there is something meaningful in life outside of what Hashem has defined for me. We do not “flirt” with the idea that there is foreign pasture more satisfying for us in which to graze. This does not connote close-mindedness to other possibilities, but rather fierce devotion to what we know to be the truest and most fulfilling love and lifestyle – a connection to Hashem.

Enjoy the roses!

Shabbat Shalom and may Hashem inscribe and seal all of us for a good and sweet year filled with health, prosperity, nachas and spiritual growth. May the entire world be blessed with the ultimate blessing – the coming of Moshiach and the redemption.

Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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