We are taught that in the month of Elul, G-d rekindles His relationship with us – and likewise, we rekindle our relationship with Him. In Song of Songs (6:3), King Solomon states, “I am for my beloved and my beloved is for me.” Our sages point out that the initial letters of this verse, “אני לדודי ודודי לי” spell out the word Elul – אלול – to teach us that it is especially in the month of Elul – the month that precedes the month filled with the main Jewish holidays – when love rules supreme.
As we approach the upcoming festivals in which we rekindle our love for G-d, we spend an entire month engaged in understanding what true love is all about, a far cry from the image presented to us by the modern world and modern media.
Chassidut teaches two approaches to the relationship between G-d and the Jewish people – an awakening from below or an awakening from above. Throughout the year each of us experiences these fluctuations at various different times. Sometimes it is we who wake ourselves up to serve G-d, and He returns to us – awakening us further. At other times we may not feel as enthusiastic. G-d Himself then wakes us, so that we should awaken and realise that He continues to love us and that we should now reciprocate.
King Solomon says that the month of Elul is all about waking ourselves first, and then G-d will awaken to bestow His love upon us. I am for my beloved – and then – my beloved is for me. It is up to each of us as individuals to make this relationship work. This is the service required of us in the month of Elul.
Chassidut explains that in the supernal worlds above, a revelation of the Kingship of G-d is felt, and automatically the fear of the King falls upon us, whereas below the revelation works by a person accepting upon himself the yoke of the kingdom of G-d.
The Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of the Chassidic movement, explains the concept of the ‘Bat Kol’ – a voice which calls out from heaven at all times. Many Tzaddikim – righteous individuals are known to hear this voice calling and informing them what needs to be done. But the truth is that this voice calls to each one of us – all the time. What good does it do if none of us can actually hear it – unless of course we would all be Tzaddikim? The Baal Shem Tov explains that the soul above hears these voices and through this it draws down the awakening to man below. Even though a person does not hear the voice directly, he does do so through a concept taught that “Even though he does not see, his Mazal (spiritual root source) sees.” And through this, a great fear falls upon one.
Our duty then is to do the barest minimum – to open our hearts to the degree of the point of a pinhead, and G-d will continue the conversation, awakening us to immediately be aware that He is constantly with us. It is then up to us to continue the conversation, making our relationship even stronger with G-d – and through this to allow G-d to once again continue even stronger – with the “conversation” at hand.
I am for my beloved. I express my love, yearning to be united. And my beloved is for me. She calls to me letting me know of her love… But love is a two way relationship. Her voice calls out in the month of Elul, sweetly… silently… gently… but the soul is touched and she is stirred to awaken to unite with her lover. Are we listening well enough? Are we letting ourselves be prepared to listen? We are giving our love to her. Are we now prepared to let ourselves engage in a real lasting relationship? As we progress through this month, let us consider these thoughts. Let us listen to the voice cooing from above, waking us out of our slumber, as she calls out, preparing us for the “Day of Judgment” where we wish for only the best of everything for all – in a revealed, manifest and visible goodness.
Let us see life through the eyes of the Baal Shem Tov, and let us hear the voice which is calling from on High.
Rav Shear writes regularly at: