17 Elul 5783
Rabbi Sam Zwarenstein
Emanuel Synagogue, Woollahra, NSW
Our tradition teaches us that the month of Elul presents an opportunity for us to delve into a closer relationship with God, as we prepare for Rosh HaShanah, Yom HaDin, the day of judgement. It is in this month that we focus on improving ourselves (mainly through self-examination and repentance) and we seek to have a closer relationship with God and our fellow human beings. We also aim to continue this journey past the Yamim Nora’im and make this process part of our everyday lives.
Our texts provide inspiration and comfort to guide us in this time. In the Book of Psalms, we find a somewhat familiar phrase; “Adonai is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 103:8).
This verse underlines some of God’s qualities that are a solid support for us: compassion, grace, patience and plenty of unwavering love for us. It serves as a lesson on which we could model our own journeys. By embracing these attributes, we invite God’s influence and presence into our preparations for the High Holydays.
Through proper intention and reflection, we allow ourselves to emulate the very qualities and behaviours that the Psalmist uses to describe God’s attributes.
We can then engage in this season to form a closer connection based on interconnected respect for God, ourselves and our fellow human beings.See more Elul Reflections