3 Av, 5763
Aug 1, 2003
[All info in brackets was added by me.
Elul, 5763 runs from August 29 - September 26, 2003.
The New Moon for Elul is celebrated starting on the eve of 29 Av (Aug 27, 2003) through 30 Av (Aug 28, 2003) and 1 Elul (Aug 29, 2003). Interestingly, 29 Av, 5763 (Aug 27, 2003), is the day when Mars is going to be the closest to earth since anywhere between 5,000 and 60,000 years. (Mars is considered to be the god of war.)]
And TODAY is the first day of the Hebrew month of Elul, the beginning of this 40-day period of time which our Sages tell us is uniquely suited for sensing the closeness of G-d and for succeeding at the task of raising ourselves closer to Him and His Torah. "Days of Divine favor and acceptance (y'mei ratzon)," they are called. Throughout Jewish history, Elul has been treasured--and regarded with appropriate awe--as the necessary period of preparation for the High Holy Days.
[Rosh Chodesh=New Moon
Special Significance (Biblical and by "Minhag," (Jewish Custom) ) of Rosh Chodesh Elul
After the Jewish People sinned by creating and worshipping the Golden Calf, and participating in other sinful activities centered around the worship of that idol, Moshe prayed to G-d for forty days and forty nights, beginning on Rosh Chodesh Elul, to spare the Jewish People and to return His full Presence among them. G-d responded favorably to Moshe's prayers by commanding Moshe to create a new set of "Luchot," "Tablets upon which were inscribed the Ten Commandments." He also restored His Presence to the Jewish People by authorizing the construction of the "Mishkan," the Temporary Structure which served as a "Residence," so to speak, for the Divine Presence, before the building of the First Temple in Jerusalem.
Minhagim (Customs) Related to Rosh Chodesh Elul
Beginning the second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, and continuing until-but-not-including Erev Rosh HaShanah (the day preceding Rosh HaShanah), the custom is to blow the Shofar every weekday (excluding Shabbat, but not Sunday), four sounds -
1. Tekiah - a flat straight sound, "Tuuuu"The Background:
2.- 3. Combination of Shevarim - three broken sounds, resembling sighing, "U-Tu, U-Tu, U-Tu," and Teruah - nine rapid sounds resembling wailing, "Tu, Tu, Tu, Tu, Tu, Tu, Tu, Tu, Tu"
4. And a final Tekiah
Note: The duration of the "Tekiah" sounds at the beginning and at the end, both during this Elul-introductory period of Shofar-blowing, and on Rosh HaShanah itself, the Day of Sounding the Shofar, must be equal to the duration of the Shevarim-Teruah (or Shevarim alone, or Teruah alone, as we shall see, placed in between them).
When Moshe went up the Second Time to receive the "Aseret HaDibrot," the "Ten Commandments," the Jewish People blew the Shofar in the Camp. They did this to impress upon themselves that Moshe had once again gone up the mountain of Sinai, so that they would not again make the tragic mistake in judging the time of Moshe's return, and fall again into Idol Worship.
Therefore, the Jewish People in later generations accepted upon themselves the custom of blowing the Shofar, beginning with Rosh Chodesh Elul to remind themselves that the people of Israel in the desert had sinned with the Egel, had repented, had been forgiven by G-d and restored to their former level of holiness. This would arouse in their hearts and minds the importance and the effectiveness of doing "Teshuvah."
Ashkenazic (Northern, Western and Eastern Europe) have the custom, beginning with the second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, of reciting Chapter 27 of Tehilim (Psalms), beginning "By (King) David, 'The L-rd is my Light and my Salvation,' " until and including Hoshannah Rabbah.
This custom is based on the Medrash which links the "Light" of David, and the "Light" of all human beings, to Rosh HaShanah, the Day of Judgment, when by the light of the "neshamah," the soul, Hashem searches out the recesses and "hidden" areas of the human being. This idea is in turn based on the verse "The Lamp of Hashem is the human soul, which searches out all the recesses of his being." And the "Salvation" of David and of all human beings is linked to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when Hashem atones for the sins of His creatures.
"The Rabbis expound this psalm with reference to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur: The Lord is my lighton Rosh Hashanah, the day of judgment, as it is written 'He will make your righteousness shine clear like a light, and the justice of your cause like the noonday sun' (Psalm 37:6). And my salvationon Yom Kippur, when He grants us salvation and pardons all our sins (Midrash Tillim on Psalm 27).
"The recitation of this psalm each day in synagogue extends until after the seventh day of the festival of Tabernacles, Hoshana Rabbah, which also partakes of the nature of a 'Day of Judgment.' The psalm also contains a reference to God hiding the psalmist 'in His sukkah,' and this ensured that its recitation was declared appropriate for the duration of the Tabernacles festival."
(1001 Questions and Answers on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Jeffrey M. Cohen)
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. 16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. 18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
John 9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
1 (A Psalm of David.) The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. 3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. 4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. 5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. 6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD. 7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. 8 When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek. 9 Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. 10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up. 11 Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies. 12 Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty. 13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. 14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
What does the name Elul mean?
"Elul" has been interpreted as an acronym, with its Hebrew letters "Aleph," "Lamed," "Vav," "Lamed" representing the words "Ani L'Dodi V'Dodi Li" (Song of Songs: 6,3).
The words mean "I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine," where my "Beloved" is G-d, and "I" am the Jewish People.
Reviewing Our Service of G-d
As part of this dual process of stocktaking and preparation, Elul is marked by heightened attention to the three elements of divine service - the study of Torah, avodah (prayer), and deeds of kindness - which are the "pillars upon which the world stands." The connection between Elul and these three modes of divine service is reflected in the name of the month; "Elul" is an acronym for a number of four-word phrases from the Tanach associated with each of these three modes.
Our Rabbis relate the phrase, Inah L'Yodo V'Samti Luch (a reference to the cities of refuge established for the unintentional manslaughterer), to Torah study, because "the words of Torah are a refuge." They relate the phrase, Ani Ledoidi V'Dodi Li ("I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine"), to prayer, for in prayer our relationship with G-d finds expression. And in reference to deeds of kindness, the Sages cite the phrase, Ish L'Rei'eihu U'Matonois L'Evyonim ("[Sending portions] each man to his friend and gifts to the poor").
[Romans 9:22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, 24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? 25 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. 26 And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. ]
Illuminating Our Divine Service with the Light of Teshuvah
Inevitably, in taking stock of our efforts throughout the year, we discover shortcomings, thus establishing a connection between the month of Elul and teshuvah, a process which requires "regret for the past and positive resolves for the future." Our Rabbis highlight the connection between Elul and the drive toward teshuvah by citing the acronym for the name Elul that is formed by the initials of a fourth Biblical phrase, Oomul Hashem Elokecha Es Levavcha V'Es Levav Zareicha ("[The L-rd, your G-d, will circumcise] your heart and the hearts of your descendants").
[Acts 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. 2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. 3 And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. 4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. 5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. 6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. 7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.]
Elul and Redemption
The possibility of such a connection with G-d is reflected in the name Elul, which is also an acronym for a fifth phrase, [Az Yashir Moshe U'vnei Yisroel Es Hashira Hazos] L'Hashem Vayomru Leimor Ashira - "[Then Moshe and the Children of Israel sang this song] to G-d and they spoke, saying, 'I shall sing....' " (In this passage, the letters Elul are found in reverse order.) Our Sages explain that this verse uses what is literally the future tense, in allusion to the ultimate revelation to be realized during the Era of the Redemption with the Resurrection of the Dead, at which time G-d's essence will be revealed throughout the world.
[Revelation 5:6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. 7 And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. 8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. 9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
Revelation 14:1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: 3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. 4 These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. 5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
Revelation 15:1 And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. 2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. 3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. 4 Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest. ]
The connection to G-d which characterizes redemption - itself a means of serving G-d - is not distinct from the other four modes of divine service that are stressed during Elul. Through Torah, prayer, deeds of lovingkindness and particularly, through teshuvah, one connects with his essential source - the level at which "Israel and the Holy One, blessed be He, are one." These four modes of divine service together enable an individual to connect to G-d in the singleminded approach characteristic of redemption.
2. Avos 1:2.
3. A name reflects the fundamental nature of an entity and reveals its life-force (Tanya, Shaar HaYichud VehaEmunah, ch. 1). Although the names of the months are of Babylonian origin (Jerusalem Talmud, Rosh HaShanah 1:2; Bereishis Rabbah 48:9), they have been lent significance by the fact that they are mentioned in the Tanach (Nechemiah 6:9 regarding Elul; see also Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XIX, p. 162; Vol. XXIII, pp. 214-15) and have been incorporated into our Torah practice.
4. Pri Etz Chayim, Shaar Rosh HaShanah, sec. 1; Mateh Ephraim, sec. 581; Elef LaMateh, sec. 1.
5. Shmos 21:13.
6. Makkos 10a.
7. Shir HaShirim 6:3.
8. Esther 9:22.
9. Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Teshuvah 2:2.
25. Shmos 15:1-2.
Historical Background of "Elul"
1. According to Jewish tradition, the World was created by G-d on the twenty-fifth of Elul, according to the opinion in the Talmud of Rabbi Eliezer, whose opinion is followed generally in connection with questions of astronomical and cosmological (having to do with the "cosmos," or the entire universe) matters. And according to the Biblical narrative in the beginning of the Bible (Bereshit 1:1-31), Original Man and Original Woman were created six Days after the Creation of the Universe. The "Day of Creation" of the first human beings is called "Rosh HaShanah." Hence, it follows that the "Day of Creation" of the Universe was the twenty-fifth of Elul.
2. According to Jewish tradition, it was on the 17th of Elul, that the spies who gave the tragic and catastrophic report about Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel), died, as the Bible says in BaMidbar (14:37), "The Men who gave a bad report concerning "The Land" died in a plague before G-d."
[I believe that the book of Revelation speaks of another Exodus scenario. We are now living in times where some believers say there is no way to get to the Promised Land without going through another wilderness experience (The tribulation). I believe that Caleb and Joshua had it right and have faith that Hashem can get me there immediately without wandering through the desert during the final seven years of this earth age.Rabbi Elazar son of Parta said, "Come and see how great is the negative power of evil speech and consequently the greatness of the punishment that it brings! We learn this lesson from the spies. For they slandered only trees and stones (the Land of Israel) - how much worse is the punishment if someone slanders a human being!"
Please see Not in your lifetime file for instances where calamity was delayed while certain tzaddiks (righteous men) were still on earth. Once they were removed, however, the area was doomed to witness all that the Lord had decreed.]
3. In the Book of Nechemiah (6:15), we find, "And the wall was finished on the 25th of Elul, after fifty two days."
When Nechemiah came up from the Diaspora of Babylon to Yerushalayim, and saw the city in its ruined state, its walls filled with gaps and its gates burnt with fire, he urged the Jewish People to rebuild the walls, in order that they no longer be a shame among the nations.
The enemies of the Jewish People, Sanbalat the Choronite, Toviah the Amonite and Geshem the Arab attempted to forge a conspiracy to prevent the rebuilding of the walls. When they tried to disrupt the work by physical force, they were repelled by the workers who worked with their tools in one hand and their weapons in the other as the verses there attest, "Those who built the walls and those who lifted and carried the burdens would do their work with one hand, while one hand held a weapon." (Nechemiah 4:11)
And the following additional dramatic descriptions of the situation, which bring to mind the battles of the early Kibbutz-niks against the Arabs at the birth of the modern State of Israel, when tremendous levels of bravery and self-sacrifice were exhibited by the Israeli worker-fighters. "So we did the work, with half of them grasping the spears, from the rising of the dawn until the emergence of the stars. Also, at that time I said to the People, 'Let each man and his attendant spend the night in Jerusalem. Thus, the night was a watch for us and the day was for work. Thus neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the watch who were under me, none of us removed our garments; no one disrobed even to wash their clothes." (Nechemiah 4:15-17)
When the enemies realized that their military attacks were to no avail, they attempted to trap Nechemiah by encouraging him to meet with them, where they would do away with him, he saw through their attempts, as it says, "Then Sanballat sent me the same message with his servant, with an open letter in his hand. In it were written these words: 'It has been heard among the nations, and Geshem confirms it, that you and the Jews plan to rebel, and that is why you are building the wall; and that you are becoming their king, and similar things; and that you have also set up prophets to proclaim about you in Jerusalem, 'There is a king in Judah!' Now these things will be heard by the king! So now, let us come and take counsel together!" (Nechemiah 6:5-7)
But Nechemiah responded, "I sent word to him, saying, 'These things that you say have never happened; you have fabricated them from your heart! For you all try to frighten us, saying, 'Let the resolve of their hands for doing the work be weakened, so that it will not be done.' But now you strengthen my hand!" (Nechemiah 6:8-9)
When the wall was successfully rebuilt, a great "Kiddush Hashem" "Sanctification of G-d's Name" occurred. As we read, "The wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, after fifty-two days. It happened that when all our enemies heard this, and all the nations around us saw, they fell greatly in their own eyes, for they realized that this work was accomplished by our G-d." (Nechemiah 6:15-16)
Read about Rabbi Akiva, Master of Teshuvah [Repentance] who is venerated during the month of Elul http://www.ou.org/chagim/elul/akiva.htm. Interesting to note (although not covered in the link provided) is that some Jews consider Akiva as the greatest(?) tzaddik (righteous man) ever who is said to have been tortured by the Romans, having his flesh stripped from his body; his life and death considered a mystery. The parallels to Jesus are uncanny.
Preparation For Judgment
In modern society, a person would not appear in court (even small claims court), without preparing his or her case, so as to be able to present it to the judge in the most convincing fashion.
Thus, Kal Vachomer (a Talmudic term meaning "certainly") a person should not come into Rosh HaShanah without properly preparing their case for presentation before the Heavenly court.
Hence the month of Elul - an annual opportunity for self-examination and preparation for judgment
Conclusion & Summation
Let us consider the following selection as an appropriate summation of all we have learned about Elul and Teshuva:
"When you really get down to it, teshuvah today is a kind of death and rebirth: a demise of the past and a birth of a new life and a new creature. There is a severing with the previous "me" and the creation of a new "me" who has a new awareness, a new sensitivity, new ambitions and dreams and longings.
[John 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. 9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.]
"Somehow, the connections to the new life become very powerful, and at the end of the trail, the rewards are enormous: a sense of having returned home and of being part of our majestic tradition, a sense of the grandeur and beauty and warmth of it all, the awareness of God's presence in one's daily life, the feeling of meaning and purpose that permeates one's self.
"Life becomes coherent and whole again."
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman
On Judaism: Conversations on Being Jewish In Today's World
Zodiac Sign of the Month
The Zodiac Sign of the Month is the "Maiden," because of the verse, (Yirmiyahu 31:20), "…Return, O Maiden of Israel, return to these cities of yours!" Because this month is set aside for return to G-d and Repentance.
Please see Revelation 12 files.
The Mahril writes that once we enter the month of Elul, anytime a person writes a letter to someone, it is incumbent upon the writer to somehow allude to the fact at the beginning of the letter that he wishes and hopes that the person have a good year. Others write that expressing these wishes can be done at the end of the letter as well. The standard blessing is "K'siva V'chasima Tova," literally "A good writing and sealing," meaning that the person should be written, so to speak, in the Book of Life, the Book of Good, and be sealed in that book as well.
[Philippians 4:3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.
Revelation 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
Revelation 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
Revelation 17:8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Revelation 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Revelation 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Revelation 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
Also please see Book of Life file.]
The Month of Elul:
The dominant spiritual theme of the month of Elul is the tikkun habrit, the tikkun for the abuse of the Holy Covenant. A person who achieves this will find his true partner in life, a partner who will help him in his aspirations rather than fight against him constantly (Likutey Moharan II, 87. See also Likutey Moharan I, 6 for a discussion of the spiritual meaning of Elul.).
[Revelation 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.Elul is a specially favorable time to attain Da'at, knowledge of God. A person can come to know and understand what he did not know before. New clothes are fashioned for his soul and he is released from all troubles.
Revelation 21:9 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.
Also please see New Jerusalem file.]
[Revelation 19:6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. 7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. ]Elul is the time to `circumcise the foreskin of the heart' (cf. Deuteronomy 10:16). Only then does a person have the sensitivity to feel real pain in his heart over the sins he has committed. His sensitivity will become so acute that the very hearts of all the drops of seed he cast away will also feel the pain, no matter where they may have fallen. They will all rise up in a great commotion and also return to God.
Elul is the time most suited to teshuvah, the return to God. It is a period of Divine favor, because it was at this time that Moses went up to receive the second tablets and opened a wide path towards God. The key to this path is to understand that God is present in every place and every situation. No matter how far you may have fallen, God is with you there just as much as He is present in the heights of the universe. In fact it is equally important to remember that He is present in the heights, because there are times when a man rises -- for example if he becomes wealthy and then forgets about God. There are even cases of people who have climbed to very high levels of religious devotion only to turn into atheists in the end. You should pray to God not to let you come to any harm as you draw closer to Him. On the other hand, no matter how low you may have fallen, even to the lowest of levels, even to the ten Crowns of Impurity themselves, you must still bind yourself to God from there. Because His dominion extends over everything (Likutey Moharan II, 82).
The Baal ShemTov called the days of Elul the days when the King is in the field. He explained with a parable. Normally, in order to gain an audience with the King, one must go through a lengthy procedure. He must travel to the capitol city, arrange an appointment, and then get permission to enter the palace. Even when permission is granted is may be days or weeks before he is finally allowed to enter. When he does finally get to see the King, the audience is likely to be short and very formal. The citizen, not used to the royal surroundings doubtlessly feels out of place, and maybe even regrets his decision to see the King. From his great fear and uneasiness, he may forget to put his request before the King.
Once a year, the King leaves his capitol to visit the various regions of his Kingdom. Now a King can't just enter a city unannounced. When he reaches the outskirts of the city he is to visit, his entourage sets up a camp while a special delegation goes ahead to the city to make preparations. for the King's visit.
In the meantime, the King is in the field; relaxed and enjoying the early fall weather. He doesn't stand on the same formality that he does when in the palace. The common folk are allowed to come out to greet the King and receive his blessing.
During Chodesh Elul, the King is in the field and he is easily accessible. We need only make the effort to go out and greet Him.
[During the month of Elul it is customary to visit a tzaddik (righteous man). Visiting the ultimate tzaddik, Jesus, at his home in heaven would be the ultimate fulfillment of this custom!The Journey to the Tzaddik
The days of Elul are days of journeys, inner spiritual journeys as well as journeys of miles and kilometers traversed across the hills and highways of America and Israel.
The journey to the Tzaddik that was often not easy, and it required great mesirus nefesh (self sacrifice) on the part of the Chassidim as well as their families. The path from Warsaw to Gur, was often full of barefooted Chassidim walking through the fields in order to save their shoes to wear for the honor of Yom Tov. Some Chassidim were gone for a month or more, and their families were left to provide for themselves. Yet many wives and families urged and blessed their husbands and fathers to make the yearly pilgrimage for the month of Elul, Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkos.
The trip to the Tzaddik in times past had a special Ta'am (flavor or ambiance). Chassidim would travel for days and weeks in the company of their brethren to reach their destination. The trip was usually made in the company of one's friends; often Chassidim of the first order and highest caliber, all traveling together in a bond of unique and unwavering friendship. Chassidim used to say, that in the company of such seekers, it was possible to attain a Tikkun HaNefesh (a healing of the soul) even before they reached the Rebbe.
Those early Chassidim would quote a verse from Jeremiah (2:2) when reflecting on their experiences traversing the dirt roads of Eastern Europe on the way to the Tzaddik. “I remembered the kindness of your youth when you went after Me in the desert; through an unsown and desolate environment.”
R' Elimelech of Lizhensk used to comment that this kindness, the willingness of the Chassid to take to the road to visit the Rebbe/Tzaddik in his youth, during the years when he was in full strength, will stand for him in his later years. Hashem will remember him when his physical strength has waned, remembering his joy and enthusiasm and how he dropped all his worldly pursuits to travel so to speak, in an unsown land as he traveled to be with the Rebbe, cut off from all worldly pursuits. Hashem will remember him and grant the Chassid the strength to make the journey yet another year.
The question is by now obvious. Why undertake the expense of time and money to make the journey to the Tzaddik? Is it not possible for one to study in his own home from books of Chassidus and Ethics? Cannot one accomplish spiritual growth on his own without the trouble of the arduous journey?
R’ Elimelech of Lizhensk pointed out that the classic Torah commentator, Rashi, asked the same question in his commentary on Parshas Yisro.
The verse states, “Yisro, the father-in-law of Moshe heard about all that Hashem had done for Moshe and his people Israel when he brought Israel out of Egypt. . ..Yisro came together with Moshe’s wife and sons to the desert where Moshe was staying near Hashem’s mountain”. (Shemos 18:1,5)
Traveling to the Tzaddik in our Day - Chassidim Arrive in Eretz Yisrael Rashi asks, “What did Yisro hear that made him come to Moshe?” Wasn’t it enough that Yisro heard all about the miracles that happened to the Jews and his son-in-law Moshe? In other words, wasn’t it enough for Yisro to reflect on the miracles that happened to the Jewish people, take the lessons to heart and continue with his life in Midian? Why did he make the treacherous desert journey with his daughter and grandchildren to the Israelite camp to meet Moshe?
Rashi answers that Yisro heard about the Exodus from Egypt and its accompanying miracles, and Amalek’s war against the Israelites. The miracles of Hashem surrounding the Exodus and the splitting of the Red Sea was known to the whole world. But Yisro also heard about the war against Amalek, and how when Moshe raised his arms in towards heaven, the nation prevailed and was victorious. Yisro understood that the war against Amalek was really the war against the Yetzer Hara (the negative inclination). It is a battle that one cannot wage without assistance; the assistance of a Tzaddik. Therefore, Yisro made the journey to his son-in-law, Moshe Rabbenu; the to Tzaddik of the times.
R’ Yisroel of Modjitz, in his classic work Divrei Yisroel explains the journey of Yisro to Moshe in a different way. Yisro studied Torah and ethics alone at home, absorbing the wisdom that was available at that time and weaning himself further and further from idol worship, and coming closer to the service of One G-d. Nevertheless, Yisro didn’t come immediately when he heard about the Exodus from Egypt and the splitting of the sea. He waited. What did he hear that now caused him to come to Moshe?
As Rashi says, he heard about the splitting of the Red Sea and about the war against Amalek. He understood that miracle of the splitting of the Red Sea was a result of the intense connection that the nation had to their leader, the Tzaddik, Moshe Rabbenu. (. . .vayaminu baHashem u’v’Moshe avdo. And they believed in Hashem and his servant Moshe. Shemos 14:31)
During the Splitting of the Sea, even a maid servant, the member of society least likely to be highly spiritually developed, experienced a prophetic vision more profound than even the prophet Ezekiel ever saw.
When the Red Sea split, all the waters in the world split, including a cup of water sitting on the kitchen table. The whole world therefore knew about the great miracle that had taken place. Despite this, the rogue nation of Amalek had the chutzpah to attack Israel, even though Israel was clearly now enjoying Hashem’s unique favor. In stark contra-distinction to Israel, Yisro understood the result of having no connection to the Tzaddik and no connection to Divinity. That realization caused him to take up his walking staff and to put himself at the side of the Tzaddik of the generation.
A story is told of the Chassid whose neighbor once asked him about the necessity of his travels to the Rebbe. “Isn’t it enough”, asked the neighbor. “To pore over the Chassidic and mussar literature in your own home?”
Answered the Chassid, “When I sit in my house with a book and begin to learn, the Yetzer Hara eventually gets up and begins to dance on my table and finally kicks my book open to the chapter that speaks about the inherent weakness of man and how he must exert himself to overcome the Yezter Hara. I am instantly become forlorn, overcome with uncertainty about my ability to best the Yetzer. When I travel to the Tzaddik, he knows exactly what I am lacking and what need to repair my faults. He strengthens me and gives me the Tikkun that my soul needs.
The desire to travel to the Tzaddik is really the intense longing of the soul to shake off its impurities and empty husks and to return to a state of purity. It is the light of the Tzaddik which cleanses and straightens out the soul of the Chassid.
[1 Cor 1551 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.]The journey to the Tzaddik is just as relevant today as it was in previous generations. The Torah states in Parshas Shoftim, concerning bringing a case to the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, "And you shall come to the Cohenim and the judges who will be there in those times, and you shall inquire of them and they will instruct you what to do". (Devarim 17:9)
On the words, "in those times", Rashi asks, "Would it occur to you to go to ask judges who are not there? Rather, ones should not say, 'The judges (read: Tzaddikim, sages) in this generation are not of the same stature as thoise of previous generations, therefore I needn't inquire of them'. In each generation we have the judges who are right for our times."
The meaning is clear. Even in our generation there are Tzaddikim and teachers who are right for us. One shouldn't think, "There are no spiritual leaders today, so I'll do the best I can according to what I feel is best." No!! The Rebbes, and teachers and Tzaddikim are out there, and the Torah bids us to seek them out.
Enoch was then sent to earth to remain there for thirty days to instruct his sons, but before he left heaven, God sent an angel to him whose appearance was like snow, and his hands were like ice. Enoch looked at him, and his face was chilled, that men might be able to endure the sight of him. The angels who took him to heaven put him upon his bed, in the place where his son Methuselah was expecting him by day and by night. Enoch assembled his sons and all his household, and instructed them faithfully about all things he had seen, heard, and written down, and he gave his books to his sons, to keep them and read them, admonishing them not to conceal the books, but tell them to all desiring to know. When the thirty days had been completed, the Lord sent darkness upon the earth, and there was gloom, and it hid the men standing with Enoch. And the angels hasted and took Enoch, and carried him to the highest heaven, where the Lord received him and set him before His face, and the darkness departed from the earth, and there was light. And the people saw, and did not understand how Enoch was taken, and they glorified God.
Enoch was born on the sixth day of the month of Siwan, and he was taken to heaven in the same month, Siwan, on the same day and in the same hour when he was born. And Methuselah hasted and all his brethren, the sons of Enoch, and built an altar in the place called Achuzan, whence Enoch was taken up to heaven. The elders and all the people came to the festivity and brought their gifts to the sons of Enoch, and made a great festivity, rejoicing and being merry for three days, praising God, who had given such a sign by means of Enoch, who had found favor with them.
60. The assertion that Enoch was translated to heaven on the anniversary of the day and the hour on which he was born goes back to a view prevalent in rabbinic writings that the pious die on their birthday. The statement that it was the sixth of Sivan on which Enoch was born, and later translated, certainly proves that by this author this day was considered the day of the Revelation. In other words, this author regards Pentecost as the Festival of Revelation, a view with which we meet for the first time in the rabbinic sources of the middle of the second century of the common era. It may be remarked that the text is not quite in order, since if Enoch reached heaven on the first of Sivan (one text reads Nisan), remained there for sixty days, and after a stay of thirty days on earth was translated for ever, his translation must have taken place in Elul (as in the case of Moses).
THE TRANSLATION OF ENOCH
The sinfulness of men was the reason why Enoch was translated to heaven. Thus Enoch himself told Rabbi Ishmael. When the generation of the deluge transgressed, and spoke to God, saying, "Depart from us, for we do not desire to know Thy ways," Enoch was carried to heaven, to serve there as a witness that God was not a cruel God in spite of the destruction decreed upon all living beings on earth.
Please also see Enoch file.
The Temple Treasury
The Temple had need of considerable amounts of gold and silver (II Macc. 3:4) for the purchase of the required sacrifices, for the ritual vessels, garments, and other utensils, for the administration, and for miscellaneous public expenses. In the course of time a great treasure accumulated in the store-chambers appointed for this purpose (Wars 6:282). Just as in the period of the First Temple, so during the days of the Second Temple money and precious vessels reached the Temple from various sources. When Judea was subject to foreign hegemony, the gentile kings sometimes covered the Temple expenses from their own treasury, or at any rate presented it with gifts to defray the cost of the upkeep...Many people devoted houses and fields to the Temple, but since the Temple at Jerusalem did not keep landed property, it was sold and the proceeds deposited in the Temple treasury (Tosef., Shek. 2:15; Mish.,Ar. 8). The Temple treasury also contained the deposits of individuals, such as widows and orphans (II Macc. 3:10), but particularly of the wealthy (such as Hyrcanus the Tobiad: II Macc. 3:11) "who deposited there the entire wealth of their house" (Jos., Wars 6:282). This portion of the treasure house was so vast that Josephus wrote that "it was the general repository of all Jewish wealth" (ibid.). However, the most important, or at any rate the steadiest, source of income was the half-shekel tax paid annually by every Jewish adult male from the age of 20 (on the basis of Ex. 30:14–15; cf. Philo, Spec. 1:76–78). These moneys were used to defray the expense of the offerings sacrificed for the entire community and other expenses. The half-shekel was levied upon everyone—except women, slaves, and minors, and even from these it was accepted if offered (Shek. 1:5)—whether they lived in the land of Israel or in the Diaspora, but the wealthy used to give "golden drachmas" (Tosef., Shek. 2:4). In spite of temporary difficulties caused by gentiles on occasion (Jos., Ant. 14:110ff.) the flow of money never stopped for any length of time. In the Roman period, rulers of cities and governors of provinces attempted to lay their hands on the funds or at least to place difficulties in the way of their collection and remission to Jerusalem, and one of the important privileges granted the Jews in the days of Julius Caesar and Augustus was the permission to collect and send the half-shekels to Jerusalem without hindrance. Augustus even included them in the category of "sacred money" and thus anyone stealing them was subject to the death penalty on the grounds of sacrilege (Cicero pro Flacco, 28; Jos., Ant. 14:215 et al.; 16:163ff.). Collections made in Babylon were first deposited in the fortified cities of Nisibis and Nehardea and later transferred to Jerusalem under armed guard (Ant. 18:310–3). Every year, on the first of Adar, the bet din ha-gadol (the high court in Jerusalem) used to send out messengers to the provincial areas (in Judea), to announce publicly the obligation to bring the half-shekels in due time for them to be delivered to the Temple chamber on the first of Nisan (TJ, Shek. 1:1, 45d). On the 15th of Adar tables of money changers were set up in the country at large (Shek. 1:3), and on the 25th day they were set up in the Temple, and pledges were taken from those who could not pay (with the exception of the priests; ibid.). Both in the Temple and in the country at large shofarot were set up for this purpose. There were 13 shofarot in the Temple (Shek. 6:1, 5), each inscribed with the object for which the money collected was to be spent (i.e., "new shekels" for use during the coming year, "old shekels" to defray the expenses of the outgoing year, others for specific types of sacrifice, such as wood for the altar, incense, and the like). The money collected was divided into two parts: three kuppot ("large containers") of nine se'ah each were set aside as the terumat ha-lishkah (contribution to the Temple treasury chamber) and the rest was collected in a special container called the sheyarei ha-lishkah ("surplus funds"). The appropriations were made from the shekels in the Temple treasury chamber three times a year, 15 days before Passover, 15 days before Shavuot, and on the 29th of Elul. The money was used mainly for the purchase of the communal offerings and the incense (Shek. 4:1), but it was used as wages for those who watched the aftergrowths in the seventh year, with the object of gathering them for use in the communal offering, and for the women who wove curtains for the gates of the Temple (TJ, Shek. 4:3, 48a; Ket. 106a). In addition, the red heifer, as well as the scapegoat which was sent out into the wilderness on the Day of Atonement, were bought from these funds, as were the vestments of the high priest. The inspectors of animal blemishes in Jerusalem were also paid from the terumot ha-lishkah, as were the experts who taught the priests the laws of ritual slaughtering and those who examined the scrolls for mistakes. The money from the sheyarei ha-lishkah was used to defray the expenses of the erection of a special bridge across the Kidron Valley, and for the expenses connected with the altar of the burnt offerings, the sanctuary, and the courts (Shek. 4:2; TJ, Shek 4:3; 48a; according to Ket. 106b these expenses were covered by the funds donated for the maintenance of the Temple). The money was also for all the needs of the city of Jerusalem, especially the maintenance of the water system and the repair of the towers (Shek. 4:2; TJ, Shek. 4:3, 48a).
(Encyclopaedia Judaica, CD-ROM Edition)
"...on the 1st of Elul (the sixth month), [New Year] for tithing flocks and herds, any animal born after that not being reckoned within the previous year"
(The Temple: Its Ministry and Services, Alfred Edersheim)
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