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We have just concluded the solemn period of the Three Weeks, a time of introspection and mourning, and now stand at the gateway of the month of Elul. This sacred month is a time of preparation, self-reflection, and renewal as we eagerly anticipate the upcoming High Holidays.

During the Three Weeks, we commemorated the destruction of the Holy Temples, a time marked by grief and sorrow. We recalled the brokenness of our world, both physically and spiritually. However, our tradition reminds us that in the darkness, there is always a glimmer of light. As we step into the month of Elul, we are invited to embrace that light and embark on a transformative journey.

Elul is a month of divine mercy, a time when we are assured that the Devine's love and compassion surround us, even in the midst of our shortcomings and struggles. The Kabalists say that the word "Elul" itself is an acronym for the verse in Shir Hashirim (6:3), “Ani ledodi vedodi li” (I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine) symbolizing the intimate relationship between the devine and each one of us.

This month presents us with a unique opportunity: the chance to recalibrate our lives, strengthen our connection to the Divine, and reconcile with ourselves and others. Just as Moshe ascended Mount Sinai for 40 days of introspection before receiving the second set of tablets on Yom Kippur, so too are we called to ascend the metaphorical mountain of our souls and engage in cheshbon hanefesh – an honest and soul-searching examination.

During Elul, we are encouraged to embark on the process of "Teshuvah" – a return to our true selves, a turning away from harmful behaviors, and a reawakening to the path of righteousness.

In the Hassidic teachings there is a concept of “Hamelech basadeh” (the king is in the field), while during the year when the king is sitting in his castle, it is very hard to get an audience with him, requiring a whole process or requests and going through his whole staff and secretaries, but while the king is wandering in the fields, anyone could just walk up and extend their requests to him, so in the month of Elul, the Devine leaves his palace and is wandering around in the fields where he is approachable by anyone.

Elul offers us an extended hand from the Divine, inviting us to draw nearer, to return to our Source, and to reconnect with our higher selves. The sounding of the shofar every morning during this month serves as a spiritual alarm clock, reminding us of the urgency to wake up and heed the call of Teshuvah.

In our preparation for the High Holidays, let us approach the coming days with a sense of hope and anticipation. Let us utilize this sacred time to rebuild broken relationships, mend shattered hearts, and strive for greater compassion and understanding within our community.

As we stand at this crossroads between sorrow and joy, despair and hope, let us remember that the journey of Teshuvah is not a solitary one. Together, as a community, we will support each other in our efforts to grow and change.

May this month of Elul be a time of deep reflection, spiritual growth, and profound transformation for each one of us. May our hearts be open to the divine love and forgiveness that awaits us. And may we emerge from this season of introspection and renewal as more compassionate, loving, and whole beings, ready to embrace the blessings of the High Holidays with a sense of awe and gratitude.

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