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On the evening of August 5th, we celebrate Rosh Chodesh Elul, the New Hebrew Month! In the previous month, AV, we strained to hear the call for righteousness amongst all the noise of suffering. According to a mystical take on our calendar (inner.org), with this new month, ELUL, we answer that call with action. It is time to get our hands dirty in the travails of society and make the world a better place. Poverty, homelessness, environmental carelessness, and wasteful energy practices are a short list of social problems that are in need of more than our attention – action is needed.
This is the process of ELUL (אלול) – we take active steps to affirm and strengthen our personal and communal bonds. We can reaffirm our responsibility that comes with the gift of family and community. ELUL in Hebrew is an acronym for, “Ani L’dodi, V’dodi Li” – I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine. Perhaps the two lovers in this phrase are humanity (each one of us!) and the world (from the natural to the social).
In the month of ELUL the process of these lovers’ merging is called TESHUVAH (returning or repenting). We acknowledge the things that we have done that have distanced ourselves from each other, from the planet, and from God. We aim to act in a way that more authentically expresses the loving relationship that we seek.
We have about 30 days until Rosh Hashana (New Years!) to find as many opportunities as possible to express our potential for compassionate and healing action. These actions include taking care of our relationship with God and also with the world and people around us. Thus, there is no major holiday in ELUL – it is an entire period of transformation and yearning for closeness.