Elul is known as the period when “the King is in the field.” Both in our tefillot (prayers) and mitzvot (commandments), Hashem is tangibly closer to us. The Shechina (God’s presence) is stronger, the kedusha (holiness) is more intense. God is more accessible at this time.
The layers of camouflage which normally mask reality and make it appear independent from God are more removed at this time. We are granted a one-month period to focus on and feel Hashem’s presence more closely in preparation for the High Holidays. He is opening Himself up, and our neshamot (souls) by extension so we can actually receive His presence.
It is a time when prayers are more easily answered and a time to begin to bask in the glory of Hashem — preparing to crown Him our King. It coincides with the fall, a time when colors and leaves and cooling temperatures give a fuzzy sense of awe for His world. Our soul’s longing every day to be one with the King is quenched at this time.
There are two lines from different prayers that can help us tap into the special energy of Elul.
“You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” Tehilim 145
“Hashem, Hashem, G-d, Merciful and Compassionate, Slow to Anger, and Abundant in Kindness and Truth.”
Hashem runs the earth. When someone wrongs us, it could be a message from Hashem to reflect. When something goes well for us, it is His kindness and His compassionate mercies. How can we connect more to that during Elul? Really, the answer is awareness, and it can come at any and every moment of the day.
Do you look around and appreciate that the brick and mortar of the supermarket you go to daily is steadfast and remains upright? Or that the millions of interactions and transactions that need to go right for those fresh bananas to be available for you to purchase are running smoothly? Hashem keeps the building standing and the supply chains flowing. In doing so, He is satisfying the desires of B’nei Yisrael “opening his hand and satisfying the desire of every living thing.”
Every day I come home and turn the lock to discover my house as I left it. My things are still safely in the places where I put them. There is not chaos or disorder and my dwelling is clean. Think of it, thousands of times a day peoples’ homes are burglarized. Their lives upturned, their valuable possessions which they sweat daily to acquire, the parnussa (money) callously taken. Why not my house? Hashem is merciful, compassionate and slow to anger.
One day, I went to a networking event and I stayed much longer than I’d intended. If a parking attendant had come by my meter he would have seen it had expired by 45 minutes. It would have been no question I should receive a ticket. When I finally left the event, I raced back to my vehicle and had no ticket. Hashem is slow to anger.
One Monday, I bought vegetables at the market intending to cook. As often happens, the week got really busy and the vegetables remained sitting in my crisper in the refrigerator. I came home on a Thursday and suddenly remembered all the food I bought. I opened my fridge and only ten percent of them had gone bad; ninety percent of them were still fresh. Hashem has so many small acts of compassion and kindness every day.
While Hashem doesn’t always work like this — sometimes there are challenges we have in life that aren’t as clear cut — noticing the moments and things that are going well for us can help put us into a mindset of appreciation. It will help us notice Hashem everywhere around us in the mundane and in the big. Then, when we do have a challenge, we will more likely turn to Him and can work to see His good even in that. You know Hashem loves you so this must be good too.
Did a neighbor smile at you today? Did a colleague ask how your day was? Did a boss give you encouragement? Those are all little gifts from Hashem. The Master of the World takes time out of what He is “doing” to focus on you and send you love. Isn’t He so kind? That’s the type of feeling we can tap into more closely this month — don’t miss your chance to do so.