Ok everyone. It’s that time of year again. The time when our pressing and testing gets even harder. The time when we are spiritually and emotionally pushed to our limits. The time when we get to show what we are really made of.
The month that we have just entered into is called Elul. It is a month of preparation, repentance, and forgiveness.
Elul means to search, as in to search our hearts through introspection. This is traditionally the time Moses spent on the mountain in preparation to receive the tablets. A shofar is also traditionally blown every morning during the month of Elul. This is to be a call to wake the sleepers from their sleep; to arouse the people from complacency; a call to repentance.
Elul is a time to reflect on the past year and to prepare for the “Days of Awe,” a time marked by repenting from the failings of the past and resolving for the future.
In the month of Elul, YHVH relates to us in a more open and compassionate manner than He does in the other months. This is the month where our King is in the field.
As those that have been walking in Torah for at least one year can attest, the month of Elul is a difficult one. It’s marked with trials, pressing, testing, and tears. It’s a time when we ask YHVH to search us and reveal to us the wrongs we have committed in order to repent and correct these issues.
Elul is the month of the Bride. It is the time when she prepares herself to meet her beloved. She is making sure that she is found spotless when her husband comes for her.
But Elul is also a time where the King is in the field. So what exactly does this mean?
Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi puts it this way:
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.
When our King comes to the field, He communes with us in our environment and circumstances. Our circumstances become tools that are used in such a way that we are taught important lessons that we would otherwise not be able to learn; or lessons that would otherwise take much longer to learn. The purpose of these lessons is to 1) prepare us and make us ready for our encounter with our King at the wedding feast (the Biblical feast of Sukkot), 2) to bring us to repentance, and 3) to draw us closer to Him.
This is a time of introspection and fervent prayer. As we draw close to YHVH, we are to ask Him to search our lives and reveal to us the wrong in our lives. YHVH is faithful to reveal our issues to us through circumstances, through the people He has put in our lives, and through revelation in prayer. Be aware of your relationships with others during this time; YHVH may use them to “press your buttons” in order to reveal an issue in your life that needs to be made right. Once YHVH reveals the unresolved issues in our lives, we then need to do our part and make these things right.
Elul is a very trying time. But if we can persevere to the end, our reward will be great. I’m reminded of the 10 virgins. Five of the virgins were foolish and hadn’t prepared themselves to meet the Bridegroom. But the other 5 had prepared and made themselves ready. Their reward was joining the Bridegroom at the wedding feast (Sukkot).
So even in this difficult month, I pray that we will do the hard work of cleaning out our hearts and removing the junk that YHVH reveals to us. If we will be the faithful and obedient Bride that prepares herself, our Bridegroom will meet us at the Wedding Feast of Sukkot.