Author: Gidon Ariel

Published Date: August 24, 2020

Beautiful Spiritual Art by Michelle Katz

Chodesh Tov! The month of Elul has arrived and it’ s significance is upon us like never before. Hashem has been calling out to us over the past six months “b’kol ram,” with a great voice. The time has come for us to respond.

“Ani L’dodi v’dodi li.” (I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me.) This saying is an acronym with the letters of the word “Elul.” The Slonimer Rebbe points out that is not just a simple sign for us to see, but it is the essence of the “t’shuvah,” returning to God, that we need to be ready to work on in the coming forty days (The month Elul + 10 days of t’shuvah, from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Hakippurim). This giant task that lays in front of us is not simply my personal commitment to get rid of my past sins, however it requires a much deeper and higher level of commitment. The Rebbe continues, “when someone steals from his friend and subsequently returns the stolen item, even if you want to say that now it is as if he did not steal, where has this person grown as it relates to his personal “t’shuvah,” growth? What internal commitment has he/she made to assure a higher spiritual growth for the future? Therefore, I need to realize that the main work of doing “t’shuvah,” is much higher than simply leaving that error behind. Real “t’shuvah” lies in the concept of “Ani l’dodi,” I am to my beloved. I need to connect myself to my beloved, my Creator and not simply return to who I was before.

When I am getting ready to make that spiritual jump I realize that I must give my all to Hashem. I need to put my ego aside and make my number one desire to be one of wanting to have a two way loving relationship with God. I am willing to call out to God and admit that I failed Him in our relationship and ask for the strength to renew our relationship right now. Thus in “Chodesh Elul” I am looking to do “tshuvah me’ahavah.” If, God forbid, I strayed away, I want to return from a place of love as opposed to only a place of awe.

As usual the question is, where do I get started? Here are a couple of humble tips. Remember, The Slonimer has stated many times in the past that Hashem is not really interested in our love if we don’t first love each other. So I return to my request from last week. Let us all commit to please stop the hatred in any way that we can. There is simply no room for hatred between us. If we can make that commitment we can take it to the next level and begin honestly loving each other with unconditional love. “Sur mera va’aseh tov,” turn away from bad and do good, (Psalms 34.15) is the the formula taught to us by King David. Kick out the hatred and make space in my heart to turn on the love. Then the gateway to loving Hashem becomes wide open.

The second suggestion comes from a teaching of Reb Shlomo. Too often we spend our month of Elul recalling all of the bad that we have done and beating ourselves up over our past. It is so difficult to pick myself up to go forward when I am lying on the floor from my self- inflicted emotional wounds. Instead, Reb Shlomo, taught, check in with yourself and recall the good things that you did this year and work on strengthening those aspects of character. If I succeeded in not speaking bad about anyone this year, I realize that I am now ready to stop even thinking bad about anyone. If I was blessed to do a few kind acts for people, I need to now step it up and not allow a day to go by that I don’t to a good deed for someone else. Most importantly, I need to accept that basically I am a good person, I am a child of God (Devarim 14.1) who wants to see more goodness in the world.

Finally, we need to stop being afraid. The fear of the unknown can mamash be devastating. I need to put my faith in Hashem that he is always loving me even when it may not look that way to me from my limited human perspective. I need to be ready to receive and appreciate all of the gifts which he wants to send me.I would like to quote from our upcoming single release, “Shir Todah,” A Song of Thanks, with beautiful lyrics by Hamutal Ben Ze’ev, בע״ה) within 2 weeks’ time)…
“v’gam im zeh ko’ev Even when it hurts
Tamid ata ohev You are always loving
val kol mah she’hayah and on all that has happened
nagid todah” we say thank you.

Friends we can’t wish to simply go back to the way it was before. We need spiritual growth! May we all be blessed to spend the month of Elul fixing ourselves, going out into the fields of life looking for God/May we have the direction to connect strongly and walk into the judgement day of Rosh Hashanah with strength, commitment and true honest awe and love of our Creator.

Shabbat shalom,

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