The Hebrew month of Elul is referred to as “the month of repentance,” “the month of mercy,” and “the month of forgiveness.” Elul follows the months of Tammuz and Av, months noted for Torah stories about the sins of Israel — the sin of the Golden Calf in Tammuz, and the sin of the faithless spies in Av — and for two historical tragedies in Jewish history — the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem on the 17th of Tammuz, and the destructions of both Temples on the 9th of Av.
In Elul, we can take time to prepare ourselves for the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which occur in the ensuing month of Tishrei. During this time, we can reflect about our process of teshuvah: the returning, renewing, repenting that we each need to do for the past year in preparation for the coming year. We can look at our actions, review our lives, engage in meaningful discernment, and begin to apologize to those we have wronged, including ourselves.
Our tradition calls this process cheshbon hanefesh, an accounting of the soul. We strive to elevate the spirituality in our lives, acknowledging our shortcomings and fragility so that we can grow. This year, we are exploring Elul through the lens of a number of Hasidic tales, whose moral, spiritual, and ethical metaphors can be a guide for us in our human experiences. We will share a video each week beginning August 17th – the first day of Elul – containing a story and some ideas for contemplation from that story to inspire and stir you toward meaningful personal contemplation and action.
These videos will be sent via email and posted here.