This week my son Levi started his first day at Gan. He will be spending time with other children and some very talented Morah's, getting a great Jewish education. As every parent knows, there is a lot of emotion and preparation, as we got ourselves and Levi ready, for this new milestone in his life.
There are many times in our life where we eagerly anticipate an upcoming occasion. A bride and groom before their wedding, a parent before their newborn child arrives, the girl or boy going to school for the first day, or your first job interview. For each of these occasions, we prepare as best as we can in the appropriate way needed for that specific occasion, ensuring that when the big day arrives we are fully present.
Tomorrow is Rosh Chodesh Elul, the first day of the new month of Elul. This is the final month in the Jewish year, and it is the time for each of us to prepare for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
We do so by auditing our spiritual accounts and assessing the year gone by; by repenting the failings of the past and resolving for the future, and by increasing our Torah study, prayer and giving charity.
Elul is the opportune time for all this because it is a month in which G‑d relates to us in a more open and compassionate manner than He does in the other months of the year. Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi taught the following metaphor:
The king's usual place is in the capital city, in the royal palace. Anyone wishing to approach the king must go through the appropriate channels in the palace bureaucracy and gain the approval of a succession of secretaries and ministers. He must journey to the capital and pass through the many gates, corridors and antechambers that lead to the throne room. His presentation must be meticulously prepared, and he must adhere to an exacting code of dress, speech and mannerism upon entering into the royal presence.
However, there are times when the king comes out to the fields outside the city. At such times, anyone can approach him; the king receives them all with a smiling face and a radiant countenance. The peasant behind his plow has access to the king in a manner unavailable to the highest ranking minister in the royal court when the king is in the palace.
The month of Elul is when the king is in the field. During the special days of this month, each one of us, no matter our background, level of education, observance, or social status, have unfettered access and equal opportunity to approach the King - Al-mighty G-d.
If you knew you would soon be meeting G-d, how would you prepare? What would you want to say?
Rabbi Mendel Alperowitz Blog
Serving the spiritual needs of the South Dakota Jewish community. Based in Sioux Falls and travels the state.