The beginning of the month of Elul initiates the first days of our annual month of preparation before the High Holy days, when the Jewish people are judged on their behavior of the past year. The Shelah comments on the verse "When the lion roars, who is not afraid?"(Amos 3:8), explaining that the Hebrew word for "lion", "aryeh", (spelled alef, reish, yud, hei), is an acronym for the 4 words, Elul, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Hoshana Rabbah (the last day of Sukkot). When the "lion" of the High Holy Days arrives, people feel the urge to change their behavior for the better, in preparation of the Day of Judgment. Because of the spiritual potency of the month of Elul, there are ancient traditions associating the name of the month with different Torah verses where the first letters of the words spell out "Elul", showing us the different aspects of its character and how we can utilize them to connect with G‑d. The most well known include "I am for my beloved and my beloved is for me"(Songs 6:3), which refers to the power of prayer; "Each man to his friend and gifts for the poor"(Ester 9:22) about charity and, in general, kindness to others; "Your heart and the heart of your children"(Deut. 30:6), referring to repentance; and "It came to his hand and we placed for him"(Ex. 21:13), which alludes to the cities of refuge, built for one who murdered accidentally (referring to the Torah, our refuge).

When we will truly use all of our efforts during the month of Elul, to learn Torah and do all of the commandments, then the final verse hinted in the name "Elul" will become fully revealed: "And they said, we will sing to G‑d."(Ex. 15:1) This was the prophesy of the Jewish people at the splitting of the red sea, that everyone will sing together at the time of Mashiach celebrating the arrival of the Final Redemption!

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

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