This Shabbos is Rosh Chodesh Elul. This means that we have 30 days left to prepare ourselves for Rosh Hashanah. Each year, I try to hype myself up by thinking up a creative mashal (parabable) to put into perspective how crucial “preparation” is. If a person does not prepare for an event, how can they expect to be successful? Since not everyone is naturally talented with the ability to just show up and perform, a person needs to take an account of what has been done up to this point, what needs to be done, and what one should do in the event that they are not prepared. Now before I give my own insight, I would like to preface it with today’s Ha Yom Yom compile
d by the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
The month of Elul is the month of reckoning. In the material world, if a businessman is to conduct his affairs properly and with great profit, he must periodically take an accounting and correct any deficiencies… Likewise in the spiritual avoda of serving G-d. Throughout the year all Israel are occupied with Torah, Mitzvot and (developing and expressing) good traits. The month of Elul is the month of reckoning, when every Jew, each commensurate with his abilities, whether scholar or businessman, must make an accurate accounting in his soul of everything that occurred in the course of the year. Each must know the good qualities in his service of G-d and strengthen them; he must also be aware of the deficiencies in himself and in his service, and correct these. Through this excellent preparation, one merits a good and sweet year, materially and spiritually.
A few years ago I went backpacking near Big Sur off the California coast (See adjacent photo). This 4 day 3 night trek pushed me to the limit. It taught me a lot about life and a lot about how the physical mirrors the spiritual. You want to pack as much as possible on such a trip but then need to realize that you will be carrying this on your back. We hiked from 2,000ft. to 3,000ft. and then down into a valley. We set up fire, pitched a tent, and cooked our own food. I even made a mediocre attempt at whittling a spoon. We scaled cliffs and found hidden springs and davened very personal and spiritual prayers wrapped in tallis and tefillin in the middle of the forest. When it was time to leave we began our accent, and the greatest accent is after the greatest decent. As I sped along the way my partner cautioned me not to take it so fast and I would regret it later. I recalled being eager to get back to the car and I think I was also annoyed at my co-hiking friend. Whatever the case was I rushed the mountain. I made it half way up and collapsed and was not sure if I would have the strength to get up and continue. I figured I would be stuck here till well into the evening and in the dark would proceed back to the car or set up tent. Keep in mind I was hiking on a 2 1/2 foot wide trail carved on the side of a 3,000 ft hill. Not exactly a place for a novice hiker such as myself.
When I look back at this trip I realize that it speaks to all spiritual seekers who year to connect to G-d. The name Yisroel which is the yechida of every Jewish neshmah is a combination of Yud Sar E-L. Yud represents consistency, Shar represents a minister, and E-L is one of the names of Hashem which is the beginning of the 13 middos of rachacmim (See: Tachnun; Hashem, Hashem, E-L Rachum…). A Jew’s G-dly soul is constantly trying to connect to Hashem regardless if the Jews body and mind are aware of the desire.
A Jew who is journey towards a closer connection to Hashem needs to know where they stand. They need to be aware that while the gather spiritual supplies of Chassidus and deep, mystic, and powerful G-dly concepts, they need to be aware that moving to fast, and going to high might result in being stuck half way up the hill. Taking things slow, being aware of where we are, where we were, and where we are going are the key to success. Once we are prepared then what? A paratroopers training is meaningless until he leaps out of the plain and pulls his parachute. We need to prepare ourselves by davening (with a minyan (on time)), participating in Farbrengens, and learning Chassidus. These are our tools and these are the tools that Chassidus, and Chabad Chassidus as used to empower Jews to stay true to Torah and Hashem against the greatest of foes.
NOW, the King is in the Field!
Its Rosh Chodesh Elul and we are ready to start the journey. 30 days till Rosh Hashanah and 40 till Yom Kippur. What does it mean that the king is in the field? It means that Hashem is now accessible to every Jew. In the palace you must get through myriads of gates with guards that have no need for your bribe money. They want pure holy praises of Hashem and mitzvos to get through each gate. Very few enter the kings chamber, and even fewer truly get to meet the King. Starting tonight the King comes down to the field and is here for all of us.
Lets make it count, together.