Elul invites us take inventory before Rosh Hashanah--to examine how we have made good on our blessings, how we have managed adversity, how we have made amends.
The High Holy Days can be an inspiring but challenging time--especially given how quickly the ten days unfold. First of all, the work of repentance and forgiveness are rarely as easy as we would like them to be. If we are serious, God makes the process pretty straightforward. But even our with sincerity, setting things straight with loved ones we have hurt can be much more complicated. And, second, it's sometimes hard to focus on our spiritual work when there are acquaintances to renew, break-fasts to prepare, or when our presence in the synagogue stirs up discomfort. The self-discovery that leads to teshuvah is rarely automatic. Thus, the effort to embrace it would benefit from time spent before the High Holy Days. Elul creates such space--to rediscover our most virtuous selves.
The medieval poet Judah Halevi once said: "When I go forth looking for You, I find You seeking me." During Elul, God calls us. God remembers that we have work to do, even if we have forgotten, or feel shy about getting started, or feel lost. When we look for God, when we look for God's inspiration, we find ourselves--our best selves, the selves God is most anxious to witness, the good, decent selves we hope to sustain during this new year and beyond.
Wishing you a meaningful and productive Elul. Please let me know if I can help you along the way.