are two ways in which we can have contact with G-dliness. One is to experience
Divine illumination when it descends from above. The other way is to reach
G-dliness from where we are. The The month of Elul is a time of preparation
when we examine ourselves, regret our misdeeds and resolve to improve
in order to reach a level so that, on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, G-dly
revelation can descend to us. The month of Elul reflects the part of the
verse from Song of Songs, "Ani L'dodi" (I am for my love)
because it is during this time that we approach Divine illumination, culminating
in "V'dodi Li" (My love is for me), when we experience
G-dliness from above during Tishrei. (it should be noted that the initials
of these four Hebrew words spell "Elul"!)
"His left hand
is under my head and his right hand will embrace me," the verses continue.
Elul is a time of mercy, associated with the right hand which embraces us. The
days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur in Tishrei are like the left hand under
the head. The left is connected with Yira - fear, or the awe that comes
from great respect, since it is during these "Ten Days of Teshuva" G-d
is considered in His aspect as king, and his kingship is over all worlds. The
fear of G-d descends from the highest levels so that the souls of Israel can accept
the yoke of His kingship. The fear of G-d which we experience throughout the year
is not born from within ourselves spontaneously, but is the direct result of the
quality of our acceptance G-d's kingship during these ten days. If we accept the
yoke completely, the fear of G-d is implanted in us for the entire year.
however, is a month characterized by chesed - kindness, the right hand
that embraces, and the nearness of G-d's presence. (Ani l'dodi). It is at this
time that the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy are revealed. If these days are characterized
by drawing G-d closer, why aren't there holidays in Elul too and not just in Tishrei?
The reason is that the revelation during Elul is different in nature than the
revelation on holidays, such as Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
illustrates this difference in a parable of a king approaching his palace. Before
he arrives, he passes through a field where many of his subjects -- rich, poor,
young and old -- are waiting to greet him. Everyone who wishes to speak to the
king has an opportunity, and he greets everyone warmly. The subjects follow him
until he reaches the palace. Once the king goes inside the palace, only those
considered worthy may enter, and even then, only if they have his permission.
Elul is the time when the king is in the field greeting his subjects before he
enters the palace; it is in Elul that we can experience unique closeness to G-d's
Elul is when we concentrate on guiding our wills toward the will
of G-d, at a time G-d's mercy is extra illuminated. The divine attribute of Keil,
representing chesed, is the first of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy. It is the
outward revelation of the Infinite Light, which is compared to a consuming fire.
Keil is like a light emerging from the fire, as there is no division between the
light and the fire itself.
This name "Israel" is derived from
the two words "Sar" (ministry) and the divine name Keil. Keil is like
one who administers and rules a person, controlling his attributes. The G-dly
spark in every soul has as its source the aspect of Infinite Light that is above
the level of Supernal Wisdom. Just as "the son is the extension of his father's
feet", and therefore he must do the will of his father without understanding,
in the same manner as the legs follow the will of the head, so, during this time,
we concentrate on nullifying our will, guided by Keil, to the Supreme will.
entire month of Elul is a time to reflect on the deeds of the preceding year.
Our actions can be like a fertile field where things are able to grow, or, G-d
forbid, they can be like a barren desert. When there are thoughts, words and actions
not directed toward the will of G-d, even if they are permitted by the Torah,
they are like a desert that cannot sustain life, and G-d does not dwell in such
a place. Every person must search his actions and his attributes to find the spark
of G-dliness which somehow became obscured during the year, or throughout many
years. When G-d created the light and saw that the "light was good",
he saw that it was good to hide it, because the world was not ready for the intensity
of the light, which is the inner will of G-d. This light is concealed within the
soul of each Jew, like a treasure that can be found only after an assiduous search.
The spark, which is in exile, can only be found in the place where it was lost,
within ourselves. Then we can experience an individual redemption, by releasing
this spark hidden deeply within our souls.
[Excerpted and translated from Likutei Torah of Rebbe Shneur Zalman