The Month Of Ellul

This year, we’re dealing with the need for intense preparation for the high holy days.  To overcome the many crises and obstacles to harmonious life on the planet, our Tshuvah and our prayers need to be very effective.

This year:”  As the year 5771 moves toward completion, we begin the annual period for consciousness maintenance (cf. Yom Kippur Katan pamphlet from Aleph.)
Tshuvah and our prayers:” U’Tefilah, U’Teshuvah, U’Tzedaka,(from Unetaneh tokef).
prayers… very effective“:  Kavvanah, to aim the prayer by envisioning what’s needed, or “The only way to get it together is ….  together.”
This year we have dealt with floods, earthquakes, wars, unrest, economy, Fukushima Daiichi contamination, to name a few.]

We have been told that the word Ellul can be read as – –Aniy L’dodiy V’Dodiy Liy / I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.

[NOTE:  Shir HaShirim 6:3.  In Hebrew, Ellul,  אלול Aleph-Lamed-vav-Lamed can be expanded as an acronym for this quote.]

This is the line for this season whereas the line Dodiy Liy VaAniy Lo “my beloved is mine and I am his” is the statement that fits the season of Passover.

[NOTE:  For a discussion on these two lines and seasons, please see:]

What this means is that the task of a reconciliation with the source begins with us and our initiative.

Our outlook and attitude has lately been turned outward looking for the means that will assure us of safety and survival.

outlook:” We are too much looking out and not enough in.
attitude:” as in smug and self-righteous.]

The amount of insecurity of our preoccupation has largely let us become more protective of self, cynical and cunning.

[NOTE: Looking everywhere except how we can change.]

Our sense of hope and security has been drained away from us and despair has taken the place of trust in divine Providence.

[NOTE:  Our strategies and approaches for healing our mother the planet have not provided solutions.]

To meet the new year in this attitude would be catastrophic. How shall we direct our self to open ourselves to the work of Ellul which means that we have to turn back to our own initiative to be able to affirm “I am my beloved’s” in order that we might expect the response of “my beloved is mine”?

If we want to have affirmations and intentions that will work for us we have to socialize them; to share them with other people of like mind and heart. So this is the time to seek out people with whom we can do this sharing and to encourage each other to shift from despair to hope.

[NOTE:  Starting with teshuvah, then sharing with others in safe settings.  We will energize one another in this way.]

So we cannot rely on the media to create the public conversation that will encourage that shift. In our families, in our neighborhoods, in our congregations, together with our fellow members of commitment, we need to begin to take the initiative toward envisioning a better future for the coming year.

There is a rabbinic statement to the effect that, “all failings, one can see and diagnose, except one’s own”. It is useful to have conversations with those who are close to us and on whose love and respect we can rely. In so many ways we have become less than fully conscious. Inviting the caring feedback makes it possible to do the work of recalibrating our basic thought patterns and actions.

There is also what we need to do in the deepest privacy of our awareness: to take hold of our relationship with the Source that sustains us and loves us into life. The recognition of our interdependence with others and our dependence on that One that we would call our Beloved is the pivot on which the turning can happen. The longing we have for the latter relationship is there but it is deeply buried under the debris of our daily preoccupations. The examination of conscience that makes us review the last year is crucial in removing the refuse heap that covers our souls. It is shocking to see how far we have deviated from the direction that we want our lives to take. And yet that shock is helpful to make us regain the direction in which we can respect ourselves in the presence of God.

Reb Zalman

[NOTES by Gabbai Seth Fishman]

One Response to “The Month Of Ellul”

  1. Reb Rachel Says:

    I appreciate Reb Zalman’s point that for many, despair has replaced faith in divine providence — and that we need to do the inner work necessary in order to approach the coming year with renewed faith in ourselves and in God.

Leave a Reply