This Wednesday is the 18th of Elul, which is a festive day on the Chasidic calendar, for it is the birthday of the founder of Chasidut in general, Rabbi Yisrael Baal Shem Tov and the founder of Chabad Chasidut in particular, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (the Alter Rebbe).
The birthday of a Tzadik, a righteous person, has a strong connection and a profound effect on the month in which the birthday occurs. The number 18 is written out with the Hebrew letters which spell the word “chai,” meaning “alive.”
Chasidut adds life and vitality to the observance of Torah and mitzvot. Thus, the month of Elul in which the birthdays of these two great Tzadikim takes place gains extra vitality and strength. And the special theme of that particular month also gains vitality.
The special service of Elul, the additional prayers, charity, and Torah study are all infused with an extra measure of vitality. By studying the teachings and the ways of the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe we can approach our service to G-d with greater enthusiasm.
The month of Elul is a time of reflection. We know where we came from, what our past contained. The question now is, where are we going? How is the approaching year going to be different from the year that is coming to a close?
One way we can assure that the year will be different is by taking the “chai,” the life and liveliness of Elul with us throughout the year. By adding spirit, joy, enthusiasm and “chai-ut” to our mitzvot and Jewish studies, we will surely hasten the time of a return to life and eternal life that we all await, for ourselves and our loved ones, in the Messianic Era. Moshiach NOW!!!