Rosh Chodesh Elul / ראש חדש אלול
"The King is in the Field – HaMelech Ba’Sade" – This month, God is as approachable as hardly any other time of the year!
The month of Elul is a time of repentance in preparation for the High Holidays of Yom Teruah (Rosh Hashanah) and Yom Kippur. Tradition teaches that the month of Elul is a particularly propitious time for repentance. This mood of repentance builds through the month of Elul to the period of Selichot, to Rosh Hashanah, and finally to Yom Kippur. The name of the month (spelled Alef-Lamed-Vav-Lamed) is said to be an acronym of "Ani l’dodi v’dodi li," "I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine," a quote from Song of Songs 6:3, where the Beloved is God and the "I" is the Jewish people. In Aramaic (the vernacular of the Jewish people at the time that the month names were adopted), the word "Elul" means "search," which is appropriate, because this is a time of year when we search our hearts.
According to tradition, the month of Elul is the time that Moses spent on Mount Sinai preparing the second set of tablets after the incident of the golden calf (Ex. 32; 34:27-28). He ascended on Rosh Chodesh Elul and descended on the 10th of Tishri, at the end of Yom Kippur, when repentance was complete. Other sources say that Elul is the beginning of a period of 40 days that Moses prayed for God to forgive the people after the Golden Calf incident, after which the commandment to prepare the second set of tablets was given.
We pray Selichot (prayers of repentance): As the month of Elul draws to a close, the mood of repentance becomes more urgent. Prayers for forgiveness called selichot, are added to the daily cycle of religious services.
Sephardic communities begin saying Selichot on (or the day after if it falls on Shabbat) Rosh Chodesh Elul. These days are considered auspicious days by all, and even those who don’t begin saying Selichot, nonetheless observe other customs of Teshuvah (repentance) during this time. Selichot refers to both the service itself as well as to each of the poetic piyyutim that compose the service. Sephardic Selichot services are identical each day. Selichot are usually recited between midnight and dawn. Some recite it at night after the Maariv service or in the morning before the Shacharit service due to the convenience of synagogue attendance at these times.
Tags: auspicious days, Classes, dodi li, Elul, faith, golden calf, High Holidays, Holidays, Israel, month of elul, mount sinai, prayers of repentance, propitious time, Ramadan, rebbetzin tziporah heller, religious services, repentance, rosh hashana, rosh hashanah, rosh hashanah and yom kippur, selichot prayers, sephardic communities, Shabbat, song of songs, teshuva, tishri, vernacular, yom kippur, yom teruah
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