“There is a time and season for everything,” King Solomon taught in the book of Ecclesiastes. According to Jewish tradition, there are various times throughout the day, week, month and year that are most appropriate for reflection and personal accounting: Each evening before retiring is the time to consider one’s actions throughout the day. Every Thursday night one should reflect on the week that has passed. On the eve of every new (Jewish) month, one reviews the month and in the last month of the Jewish year one evaluates the entire year.
We have just entered that final month, Elul.
Elul is the time when we look over our deeds of the previous year and make a reckoning and appraisal of our personal growth and development.
There are many customs associated with the month of Elul. During Elul, it is customary to have one’s mezuzot and tefilin checked by an expert scribe (sofer). One is also enjoined to be more careful in the area of the Jewish dietary laws (kashrut).
From the very beginning of the month, we greet friends and sign letters with the wish that we should be “written and sealed for good” and that we should have a “good and sweet year.”
In addition, we add Psalm 27 to our daily prayers as well as increasing our recitation of Psalms in general.
With all of this, it is good to keep in mind the analogy of Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidism, that during the month of Elul “the King is in the field.” This means that although at any time of year G-d is surely approachable by each and each one of us, He is even closer to us in the month of Elul.
As we are merely at the beginning of the month, let’s not waste a moment. Let’s get to work so that we will all truly have a good and sweet year, with the ultimate good of Moshiach NOW!