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What do we do during Elul?

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Today is the 1st of Elul. Many in the Jewish world return to their studies (may you be successful). Beginning tonight, Sephardim will start to say selichot, communal prayers asking for Divine forgiveness. And the sound of the shofar will be heard throughout the month of Elul, its siren call awakening something different in each of us.

I once heard the idea that in the month of Elul we need to turn our attention in two directions that are neglected throughout the year: within and above.

Within - toward self-improvement. Throughout the year, we tend to complain about events and people, whether in the news and or in our own lives. Sometimes the criticism is justified, but now is the time for soul-searching and self-investigation. To check what we - not others - are doing. On the High Holy Days, our declaration is "Ashamnu, bagadnu" (We have transgressed, we have acted treacherously). It's about us and no one else.

Above - toward God through prayer. The gates of heaven are always open, but this month is considered an especially propitious time to connect with God. Recently they announced in the Corona Cabinet that "hope is not an action plan." That is correct, but to every action plan, it is necessary to add hope, optimism, and faith.

Here's wishing everyone a good month with lots of good news.


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