Rosh Chodesh Elul: Not fear, but love!

RAMSThis coming Shabbat is also the beginning of a new Month. It is the last month of the Jewish year, the last one before the High Holy Days.

According to tradition, 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 and descended on the 10th of Tishri, at the end of Yom Kippur, when repentance was complete. Therefore, Elul is “the” time to begin the process of asking forgiveness for wrongs done to other people. According to our tradition, God cannot forgive our sins committed against another person until we have first obtained forgiveness from the person we have wronged. This is not as easy a task as it sounds on paper, but it is worth it. Many people visit cemeteries during Elul, too, because the awe-inspiring nature of this time makes us think about life and death and our own mortality. Perhaps we have still something unsolved with a family member or friend who has passed away, and visiting the grave site may help us to process it.

And thus, Elul, this final month of the Jewish year becomes the final opportunity to ‘rack up’ mitzvot, to ensure that good deeds exceed the negative ones. The anxiety of Elul is the tense anticipation of the divine courtroom in which our very lives hang in the balance. Much is at stake, and we would do well to prepare, to enter judgment in a flawless state.

But in certain sources, a different atmosphere pervades the month of Elul. Not fear, but love! The name “Elul” is seen as an acronym for “Ani ledodi Vedodi Li – I am for my beloved and my beloved is for me.” This is a phrase from the Song of Songs, a part of our Bible understood by the rabbis as an expression of the love between God and Israel. In this perspective, Elul becomes a time of reciprocal love and closeness between God and Israel. God seeks our love, our relationship. Elul is the opportunity to demonstrate that we may indeed lead our lives in a manner of which we are proud. This Elul, let us return God’s love.

Shabbat Shalom Rabbi Adrian M Schell (Source: alexisrael.org)

Torah Reading for Shabbat Re’eh

1st Scroll: Deuteronomy 11:26–16:17

2nd Scroll: Numbers 28:9-15

Reading: Dtn 11:26- 12:16 (P 1255 / H 799)

Haftarah Isaiah 66:1-13, 23 (P 1492/ H 944)

“See,” says Moses to the people of Israel,
“I place before you today a blessing and a curse”—the blessing that will come when they fulfill God’s commandments, and the curse if they abandon them.
Our parasha gives a strong waring not to follow false prophet, or one who entices others to worship idols. Our Parshah concludes with the laws of the three pilgrimage festivals.

Podcast of Rabbi Schell’s weekly Sermons Tuesdays on Radio Today (10h30) or:  http://goo.gl/LsHQrY.

 

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