It’s the time to begin a return. This Shabbat, we spend our last day in the month of Av. With the conclusion of Shabbat and the setting of the summer sun, we will transition to Elul. Elul, our Sages have taught us, is the beginning of a new relationship with God. Why is such a new relationship necessary? It is because of the imagery of the Days of Awe. For so many people, the image of God as king, as ruler, sitting on a throne of judgment and a throne of mercy is foreign and difficult to embrace. Therefore, our tradition gives us Elul as another lens to embrace the Eternal and prepare our souls for the Days of Awe. Instead of seeing God as a remote ruler, we can look instead at God as a sacred partner, helping us to return to a productive path of goodness, kindness and mitzvot. Elul, which means I am my beloved and my beloved is mine, represents a sacred, sincere sharing between the individual and God. When God is viewed with such a lens, it becomes far easier to embrace the meanings and symbols of the Days of Awe. Why? Far from being a removed ruler of justice and mercy, God becomes a presence of comfort, caring and connection whose desires of justice and mercy are not to punish, but rather to force us to look in the mirror and become the best version of ourselves.
To a good and fulfilling week,