Elul is the sixth of the twelve months of the Jewish calendar. In Aramaic, Elul means searching, which is what we do to find the deeper meaning of simple terms such as our months. Elul is also called “the month of repentance,” “the month of mercy,” and “the month of forgiveness” for it is the month of ‘Pre-pare,’ preparing to repair. We cannot repair the world alone. We need to be in relationship to repair our torn world. We need to find our sacred partner and rejoin in that partnership. That is why I call it re-pairing. The High HolyDays are the shofar blast call to re-pair with each other, with our G, with our 5 level soul.
Repairing with the Wholly One of Being is not easy. It takes preparation. In order to re-pair we need to pre-pare. Elul then, is also the month of pre-paring to re-pair. In Elul we pare away all the covers, all the armor, all the outer skins. After we have pared away, after we have pre-pared, then we are ready to pair again with G and with our inner deepest soul. Pre-paring leaves us open and ready to re-pair.
The four letters of the name Elul are an acronym for the initial letters of the phrase in the Song of Songs (6:3): “I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me.” This is our public acknowledgement of our private need to re-pair with the Wholly One of Being. The words help us pre-pare to re-pair with the Source of All Being. “I am to my beloved” we call out in a consummate desire from the חייה (Hayah) soul of longing to turn once again, to re-turn our soul-root to G. “And my beloved is to me” is the faith we have that when we turn again to G, when we re-turn, G is there. When we pare away all of the unbalancing weight of our mis-steps, our mis-guided actions, our mis-takes for the last year; when we pare away the harsh judgments and anger that we feel to others we are ready to re-pair with our “Beloved” with our G.
In “small numbering (this means that we add the numerical value of the letters which equals 67 and then add 6 and 7 to equal 13,) Elul = 13, alluding to the 13 principles of Divine mercy that are revealed in the month of Elul and that is our mantra for returning to spiritual balance. For the month of Elul, we recite during Slihot, the thirteen attributes, the mantra of pre-paring in order to re-pair with The Source of Mercy. For the world cannot be whole again without re-pair. During Elul, we pre-pare in order to re-pair during the new year, 5770.
The yud is the first letter of the Tetragrammaton, that tiny little point of beginning.
All created form begins with an essential “point,” of energy and life-force, the point of the letter yud. As we ‘pre-pare’ for the beginning of the spiritual year it is most appropriate for us to focus on that point of beginning.
The word yud means “hand” and was originally a pictograph of a hand pointing. Elul is our pointer, our Yad, to the coming year. It is our direction of focus for the future.
Sign: Betulah (Virgo the virgin)
This is the beloved in waiting, the bride to be. In Judaism we are taught that the verse in Song of Songs “I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me” refers to our desire for G and G’s openness to us.
In Hassidut the verse “I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me” refers, in particular, to the service of prayer of the month of Elul.
The Betulah symbolizes as well the “virgin earth,” The earth needs a rectification of action from we two-leggeds and that too is the month of Elul.
The sense of action is the inner “knowledge” that through devoted deeds of goodness one is always able rectify any blemish and remove any broken state of the soul. This is the sense necessary for the spiritual growth and the point at which Elul is aimed. The sense of action is thus the sense never to despair, never to give up, never to stop. This is the “point,” the yud (of Elul), of Divine service. Without it we can never begin, for we can never pre-pare.
The sense of action is the inclination to fix a broken object. Our souls are broken, our people are broken, our country is broken, our world is broken. Elul is a call to action a call to pre-pare to re-pair.
One meaning of the tribe name Gad (pronounced – god) is “camp.” In Genesis 49:19 in Ya’akov’s blessing to his son it is written: “Gad shall create camps and he shall set the camp to follow” (Genesis 49:19). Gad was setting up a rearguard action with his ‘camp.’
The name Gad means as well “good fortune.” This “good fortune” is manifest through good deeds. Good deeds that heal our blemishes and beautify our souls.
The ‘good fortune,’ the ‘good deeds’ of Gad in Kabbalah, refers to the thirteen principles of mercy that are represented by the month of Elul.
When we play the Gematria game we find some fun facts. Gad = 7. Gad was the 7th son of Ya’akov. Good fortune is often translated as Mazal as in “Mazal Tov,” “May the Stars be with you.” Mazal = 77. The middle letter of mazal is zayin = 7. If we take the name Gad (Gimel Zayin) which equals 7 and replace the zayin with them we make a new word. That word is Migdal which means “tower.” The verse states: “A tower [migdal = 77] of might [oz = 77] is the Name of G-d, into it shall run the tzadik and become exalted.” (Proverbs 18:10) In Kabbalah, the “tower of might” refers to the bride. The Betulah of Elul also refers to the bride. The Jewish people are the bride of G. And Shabbat is also refered to as the bride. The Tzadik here refers to the groom.
Controller: left hand.
For right handers, the Tfilin shel yad is placed on the left hand. The left hand receives the Tfilin from the right. We place it on the left hand to be near the heart. So the good deeds, the healing acts are done heartfully, as it says in the Shma: “And these word/things you will do soulfully, heartfully, fully.