Love and rapprochement: When the king goes out into the field

Elul is a special month for drawing closer to HaShem. come in to see why.

Phil Chernofsky ,

Prayer at Western Wall in the age of coronavirus
Prayer at Western Wall in the age of coronavirus
Nati Shohat/Flash90

"I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine ..." This quote from Shir HaShirim (6: 3) is the well-known by its Rashei Teivot (initial letters) which spell ELUL. The phrase describes the mutual love between G-d and the People of Israel, which serves as a helpful reminder of our Elul-time task of sincere repentance.

Other phrases from Tanach are also associated with ELUL, not just initial-wise, but thematically as well.

Notable among them are two other phrases which join ANI L'DODI to represent the three kinds of acts that help us avert an evil decree, T'SHUVA (repentance), T'FILA (prayer), TZEDAKA (chesed)

One of the p'sukim in the Torah that deals with the topic of T'shuva indicates G-d's help in the process:

And HaShem your God will circumcise your heart, and the heart of your offspring, to love HaShem your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, that you may live.

This pasuk (D'varim 30: 6) is read on the Shabbat before Rosh HaShana and contains a four-word sequence whose initials spell ELUL (ET L'VAV'CHA V'ET L'VAV zarecha).

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch says that the ANI L'DODI pasuk represents prayer which is poetically described as RINAT DODIM, the song of lovers.

And then there is the pasuk in Megilat Esther which contains an "ELUL" that features interpersonal acts of kindness:


With these three (and a few others) already well-known, it was a challenge to search Tanach (computer-assisted) for other meaningful ELULs. There are 47 4-word sequences in Tanach with Rashei Teivot of ELUL. Most do not lend themselves to any significant comment. But some do.

How about these ...

When Moshe Rabeinu was pleading Israel's case before G-d, in the aftermath of the Golden Calf (which is what he was doing during the first ELUL), one of his "arguments" was -

Remember Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yisrael, your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.

During the period of the Yamim Nora'im, we definitely call upon Z'CHUT AVOT, the merit of our forefathers, to help us. And we also remind G-d, so to speak, of His various promises. T'shuva, return, is on two levels - at least. Turning back to G-d and coming back to the Land. This pasuk's ELUL (ETEIN L'ZARACHEM V'NACHALU L'OLAM) fits in beautifully with our return to the Land.

One of the ways we approach G-d in the time of the Beit HaMikdash (past and future) is with korbanot. The word KORBAN, as we know, shares its root with the concept of drawing close (to G-d). Several p'sukim contain the phrase: ECHAD L'CHATAT V'ECHAD L'OLAH (or a variation of that).

Yirmiyahu 12:15 states: "And it shall come to pass, after I have plucked them out I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them back, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land." - ISH L'NACHALATO V'ISH L'ARTZO

Further on in Yirmiyahu (31:33), G-d says, "... for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will no longer remember their sin." ... ESLACH LA'AVONAM ULCHATATAM LO ezkor od.

Divrei HaYamim Bet 5:13 - "... sounding a note in unison, in praise and thanksgiving to G-d" - kol ECHAD L'HALEIL UL-HODOT LASHEM

That's five more ELULs we've added to the "traditional" three (and one was a multiple), so we've "used" about 12 of the 47 "finds" in the search through Tanach. And that does not cover the SOFEI TEIVOT or the word ELUL occurring in reverse. Maybe some other time. In all cases, ELUL is a special month for drawing closer to HaShem ...