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The Multiple Images of Elul

Friday, 29 August, 2014 - 1:05 pm

Picture the declaration, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” – This is Elul – the month of freedom from sin. An auspicious time for spiritual renewal.

Picture a man being chased by another with blood in his eyes. He runs toward a secure place – a haven - arriving just moments before his assailant. His is now safe from harm. – This is Elul - a month refuge from the Yetzer Hara.

Picture a gentleman determinedly courting a young woman with the prospect of matrimony in close sight. He finally gathers up the courage to propose marriage to her and he eagerly awaits her response. – This is Elul – under the sign of the maiden, it is the month when G-d courts and proposes to the Jewish people that they once again be His treasured nation.

Picture a candidate for the top office in the land stomping on the campaign trail trying to prove to his constituents that he truly cares for them and will work hard to improve their lives and their society. - This is Elul – the month where G-d is auditioning for another year as Sovereign of the Universe.

Picture a benevolent monarch returning to his capital from a long journey. As he approaches the city his subjects come out to welcome him back. He greets each of them, even the simple farmers and laborers in their work clothes, with a smile and joyous countenance. – This is Elul – the month when Hashem is accessible to us and happily accepts our Teshuva and love for Him.

Picture a sleeping soldier awakened by reveille. A sleeping school-child awakened by the alarm clock. A sleeping farmer awakened by a rooster’s call. A fireman roused to duty by the clanging fire alarm. – This is Elul – the month in which the Shofar is sounded as a wake-up call to engage in spiritual betterment and closeness to Hashem.

These Elul images are all employed by our sages to bring us heightened awareness as to the special qualities of this month. These metaphors should inspire us to truly seize the opportunity to utilize every day and moment of Elul in preparation for Rosh Hashanah and the new year. Sometimes we need a happy image. Sometimes we need a hopeful image. Sometimes we need an image that inspires confidence or one that makes us feel secure and loved. Sometimes we just need a reminder to be all that we can be.

May we make the most of all of our Elul images and opportunities. Doing so will ensure that Hashem blesses each and every one of us and our loved ones with a happy, healthy, prosperous and meaningful new year of 5775, dripping with sweetness and charged with the energy of redemption!

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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