The Power of Teshuvah – Day 2
Golden Days of Elul
Ever since our journey through the Wilderness after the exodus from Egypt, the period from Rosh Chodesh Elul until Yom Kippur has been an eis ratzon, an extraordinary time of favor that is especially charged with Divine compassion.
Our first poignant experience with Elul’s power to bring us to repentance and forgiveness took place after the egregious sin of the Golden Calf. There we were, fallen from the exalted status we had attained when we accepted the Torah on Mount Sinai, teetering on the verge of oblivion. God was prepared to eradicate us and start anew with Moshe Rabbeinu.
Then, on Rosh Chodesh Elul, Moshe ascended the mountain to accept the Second Tablets of the Covenant. He remained there pleading day and night with God to forgive His foolish, wayward nation. At last, on Yom Kippur, God forgave the Jewish people and we were restored to our lofty position as His emissaries on earth. From then on, for all eternity, these days have been designated as an eis ratzon — a favorable time — for achieving forgiveness.
Elul is the time Hashem gives us to prepare to acquire a clean slate upon which the upcoming year’s blessings can be written, and to rally a fresh enthusiasm to fuel our growth.
The shofar, sounded from the first day of Elul through Rosh Hashanah, is our reminder to ready ourselves to be inscribed for a positive judgment in the year to come. Its primary purpose is to awaken us from our spiritual “slumber.”
Throughout the year, a person who seeks this renewal must stretch himself to the maximum, at which point he merits Hashem’s help to complete the task. During Elul, however, Hashem is ready to “descend” and dwell among us, in “easy reach” of anyone who turns to Him in sincere teshuvah. This is evidenced by the Hebrew letters of the word Elul (aleph, lamed, vov, lamed), an acronym for the words: ani ledodi v’dodi li — I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.
A successful businessman knows that procrastinating, avoiding the difficult tasks and leaving things to chance, spell failure for his enterprise. Teshuvah, the key to a new year of life, cannot be frittered away by poor business practices.
Elul is literally the time for “getting down to business.” As the verse states: “If you will seek it as [if it were] silver … then you will understand fear of Heaven.” There is no question that a person should treat his service to Hashem with the seriousness and persistence he would apply to acquiring wealth.
Points to Ponder:
- The days of Elul are charged with especially potent Divine compassion.
- Because of its unique nature, it is a propitious time for one to prepare to do teshuvah and gain forgiveness.
- Using the power of Elul to its maximum affords the ideal opportunity to be granted a favorable judgment.