The first letters of "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine", in Hebrew "Ani l'dodi v'dodi li. . ." (Songs 6:3) spell "Elul". This verse is the most commonly quoted to represent the spirit and service of Elul; a reciprocal relationship of growing closeness and commitment between G‑d and the Jewish people. Our ways below arouse and elicit G‑d's response from above…

"G‑d is your protection, G‑d is your shadow [in Hebrew, "tzilcha"] on your right side." (Psalms 121:5) There is a famous thought from the Baal Shem Tov on the words "Ado-nai tzilcha":

He said that "your shadow" means that G‑d shadows us in the world. Just as a shadow moves in synch with the person and never leaves him, the way we choose to conduct ourselves in the world is the way G‑d conducts Himself with us. If we engage in acts of chesed, then G‑d responds in kind by showing us His infinite chesed. Our ways below arouse and elicit G‑d's response from above.

This is exactly how we understand the above verse from Song of Songs: "I am my beloved's…" and in return, "…my beloved is mine". By taking your beloved into your heart, it prompts your beloved to take you into His.

The advice for one who wants to emerge meritorious on Rosh Hashanah is to unite himself with the entirety of the Jewish People as a whole. This idea, the secret of Rosh Hashanah, is found in the Holy Zohar (parashat Beshalach) concerning the Shunamite woman (Kings II 4:1-37 and the Haftorah for parashat VaYera). She made a special room on her roof for the traveling prophet Elisha, that he could use according to his needs. One day Elisha found the woman at home and asked her if he can do any thing to repay her kindness. He asked, "Is there something I can say to the king on your behalf"? (Ibid.14) She answered only, "I prefer to dwell amongst my people." It is clear that she wished to derive no personal benefit from the mitzva of chesed she had done. Only in the unity of the people is our judgment secure…

Yet the Zohar understands that Elisha is really asking her if he can represent her in front of G‑d on Rosh Hashanah, giving her a special mention. The woman replies firmly and absolutely, "I prefer to dwell amongst my people" - I don't want to be singled out, perhaps I don't have enough merit to stand alone. I wish only to be judged together with whole of the Jewish People. Only in the unity of the people is our judgment secure.

How does one come to this feeling of love and closeness for the Jewish people? It takes special insight. One must learn to look at a Jew in a new and special way. In essence all Jews have a common denominator, for our souls were all hewn out from the same place; a special repository underneath the Throne of Glory.

In each Jew lies a spark of this soul, that, no matter how distant he becomes from G‑d, can never be extinguished. Through sincere meditation on this idea, one will soon come to see that every Jew is really his brother or sister; a member of the same family. They are in essence parts of one whole; one soul just separated by physical bodies.

This provides us with a wonderful explanation for the verse, "Love your neighbor as yourself, I am G‑d." (Vayikra 19:18) Why does the verse add "I am G‑d"? Love your neighbor as yourself; of course! He is in essence your very self. I am G‑d; I am the spark which is in each and every one of you; I am the common denominator. Return to Me, since all things seek the source of their beginnings. When you return to Me in teshuva, you bring about unification of the Jewish people. The two trumpets…represent the longing of the soul to return and reunite with its source…

"With trumpets and with the voice of the shofar you shall blow before G‑d your King." (Psalms 98, also found in the Lecha Dodi prayer) The Great Maggid of Mezritch explained that the two trumpets were made out of one piece of beaten silver. "Silver", in Hebrew, is "kesef", which has the same root meaning as "to long for" or "desire". They represent the longing of the soul to return and reunite with its source. The two trumpets are blown, and the sounds unite in harmony, symbolizing the reunification of the soul which had been rent asunder from its source.

The sound of the shofar brings on teshuva (repentance). "So great is teshuva that it reaches until the Throne of Glory". (Talmud Yuma 86a) Plain and simple, it is true. Through teshuva the soul is reunited with it source at the Throne of Glory.

"I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine", represents two parts of the whole longing to reunify, "..who pastures in the roses." The Holy Zohar refers to the Supernal aspect of G‑d as "shoshana", a rose. A rose while still closed is only green, and its true beauty and fragrance are hidden. Only when it opens is its full splendor revealed, which was in fact concealed there all the time. "I will be like dew for Israel, and he will open like a rose..." (Hosea 14:6)

When one humbles oneself to include all of Klal Yisrael in his reality, discovering that ever-glowing spark in his soul, the resplendent rose in which no malignancy can ever take root, G‑d will surely bind with us and we will experience the ultimate joy and peace.

[Based on Yismach Yisroel vol.2, on Rosh Chodesh Elul, essay #2; first published in B'Ohel Hatzadikim, Ki Tavo 5759]