Rosh Chodesh Elul ushers in one of the most potent times of the Jewish year. A season of reflection and introspection. It is a time to look at our lives and examine where we have been, where we are now, and how we can move closer to Hashem in the days, weeks, and months to come.
In the words of Mrs. Leah Rubashkin, the inaugural speaker for this year’s Yarchei Kallah, “Elul is a haven in time.” It is a particularly auspicious time for us to succeed in this deep internal investigation as Hashem draws us close and we attempt to move closer to Hashem. At this time of year, Hashem makes Himself even more approachable and available to us. It is said that Hashem is like a king in the field during the month of Elul. He meets us in the most natural way possible so that even as we do this demanding work of tshuva and spiritual accounting, Hashem is right there with us.
Rebbetzin Rochel Wechter reminds us through real life stories that “Everything changes if you suddenly start looking for the positive things that we have in life.” As we have had to do throughout our history, we grow in ruchniyius when we approach life b’simcha. Looking for the small ways that we see Hashem’s hand helping us in our daily life brings us to simcha. Though this season of reflection may seem daunting, the ideal is for us to approach the task with simcha. To view Elul as a gift. A gift of time. Time to spend in reflection and growth. Setting the tone for the yomim tovim.
From Rosh Chodesh Elul all the way through Sukkos, we recite perek 27 of Tehillim twice each day. Our own Dr. Chavi Goldberg, in her in-depth analysis of this perek shows us how the Hebrew for 27 (chaf-zayin) is related to purity. It is this purity of our neshama that we seek as we stand before Hashem. During Elul, we work to strip our neshama of the many layers we hide beneath as we go through our daily lives. So many different facades we place upon ourselves. Now is the time to slowly take them off, revealing to ourselves our true essence, presenting ourselves in the purest way possible to Hashem.
In Sefer Yetzirah we learn, “Hashem enthroned the letter yud upon action, attached a crown to it, and formed with them the Mazel of the Maiden in space and the month of Elul in time.” We learn that the yud is the foundation, the basic building block of all the other letters. When a sofer starts to write any letter, he starts with a yud and extends from there. We can see from its nature, that the yud is full of potential. This small letter can transform into any other letter! The yud itself is hidden within each of the other letters. So too does the yud represent the hidden potential within each of us. Aligned with the month of Elul, it is truly a time for us to reach deep inside, uncover our hidden potential, and begin the work of developing and reaching for our own individual potential.
Let us all take advantage of this month of Elul, this gift of time, to unearth our hidden potential and grow closer to Hashem b’simcha.