The month of Elul is a time of repentance in preparation for the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The word “Elul” means “search,” which is appropriate, because this is a time of year when we search our hearts. The month of Elul is the time that Moses spent on Mount Sinai preparing the second set of tablets after the incident of the golden calf (Ex. 32; 34:27-28). He ascended on Rosh Chodesh Elul (the first of the month of Elul) and descended on the 10th day of Tishri, at the end of Yom Kippur, when repentance was complete. Other sources say that Elul is the beginning of a period of 40 days that Moses prayed for G-d to forgive the people after the Golden Calf incident, after which the commandment to prepare the second set of tablets was given. Elul is also a time to begin the process of asking forgiveness for wrongs done to other people. G-d cannot forgive us for sins committed against another person until we have first obtained forgiveness from the person we have wronged. As people mature, they begin to formulate achievable goals, allowing them to later look back and evaluate what they accomplished and where they fell short. The Babylonian Talmud (the repository of Jewish wisdom compiled in the 6th century CE) teaches that at the final judgment, we are asked three basic questions: Did you conduct your business with integrity? Did you set aside fixed times for study? Did you hope for better things to come? (Shabbat, 31a).
Each of those three questions is worth thinking about, and we can begin during Elul. The coming year gives us the opportunity to turn – or perhaps to return – to a vision of our highest self. Shabbat Shalom . Rabbi Julia Margolis. (Sourse: Reformjudaism.org)