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ELUL-The month of ELUL
 

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The following that you are about to read are inspirational stories and chizuk to help one during the month of Elul and the Yamim Noraim.  I wish everybody a Shana filled with much Bracha and  Hatzlacha. May we all be zoche to sing the Shir Chadash, to hear that one t'kia from Hashem that will bring us into a time of Moshiach, where everyone will sing Hashem's praises and we will all live in peace and harmony.AMEN!
Lichvod/Dear Klal Yisrael
our Sages teach, מקום שבעלי תשובה עומדים אין צדיקים גמורים יכולים לעמוד בו - a ba'al teshuvah stands on a higher plane than even the greatest tzadikim.  Let us take advantage of these awesome days to return to G-d and enjoy the wonderful life ofקרבת אלקים.

Please continue to check this page for additional chizuk stories that will IY"H be added (Please add in your chizuk/story/mashal) to help us during the Yamim Noraim. IY"H

Bracha and Hatzlacha
E.N.

אני לדודי ודודי לי

I am to my Beloved [Hashem] and my beloved [Hashem] is to me.(Shir Hashirim 6:3).

דרשו ד' בהמצאו קראהו בהיותו קרוב

Seek out Hashem when He is nearby, call out to Him when He is near.(YeShaya 55:6)

Chazal tell us that the  Pesukim above  are referring to the month of Elul! 

The 40 days from Rosh Chodesh Elul until Yom Kippur are a special period when Hashem is extremely close to us, and He is waiting for us to return to Him, to do Teshuva (repentance) and to strengthen ourselves in Torah, Tefilah and Good Deeds. Not only is it importnat to grow spiritually in this time period, it is also much easier to attain higher and loftier goals than it would normally be during the rest of the year. Let's take advantage of this closeness to Hashem and become better Jews in all areas of our lives , and thus hasten the coming of Mashiach and the rebuilding of the bais Hamikdash very soon. Amen!

  

Some great books to read to help one with Teshuva:

Moadei HaShanah-Rav Shimshon Pincuszt'l 

The practical Guide to Teshuva-Rabbi Shaul Wagschal

The Power of Teshuva-Rabbi Heshy Kleinman

Tewerski on Machzor Rosh Hashana-Rabbi A.J. Tewerski M.D

Pathway to Prayer-Rabbi Meir Birnbaum


ELUL IS TESHUVA TIME!!!
1. click here for great things to get/order 
to help one get closer to Hashem.
2. click here for great things to do.
 

The History of Elul 

On the first day of Elul, 1313 BCE, Moses ascended Mount Sinai. Some six weeks ago he had shattered the first set of tablets, inscribed with the Ten Commandments, and now he took along with him a second set of tablets, which he had hewn at G-d's directive, for G-d to re-engrave the Ten Commandments.

Moses remained on the mountain for 40 days, until the 10th of the Jewish month of Tishrei (henceforth known as Yom Kippur), and brought down the second set of tablets, demonstrating G-d's whole-hearted forgiveness and reconciliation with the people of Israel following their betrayal of the covenant between them with their worship of the Golden Calf.

Ever since then the month is referred to as a period of "divine mercy and forgiveness."Our sages taught that just as in response to Moses' plea for forgiveness, 

G-d responded "I forgive." So too if we return to the ways of G-d, especially during these days prior to the High Holidays, we will merit G-d's forgiveness.

All in all, Elul is a time of reflection, thinking of what we did in the past year and what has to be corrected. 

 

Lichvod/Dear Klal Yisrael

We know that Hashem is always with us.   We can always ask Hashem to fulfill our requests and needs, but during the month of elul, Hashem is even closer to us, "right next to us on that park bench."  He's waiting for each and every one of us to call out to him, to cry out to Him, to return to Him.  Let's not miss the opportunity of this month!

 

!!!!!!!!!!IT'S ELUL-LET'S WAKE UP!!!!!!!!!! 

 

#1. During the month of ELUL

There was once a king who ruled in this town. Once a year he would take of his crown and his royal clothes. He would then put on regular clothes and go out to speak with the people to hear and see what he can do for them. No one would know on which day the king would do this. One day the king got up and said today is that day. He got up, dressed in regular clothes and went out to the park. He saw a man sitting on a bench and decided to sit next to him and ask him how everything was doing.  The man answered that everything is doing well, so the king asked do you need anything and the man answered no, I have everything.  The king asked if there was anything he can do for him and the man answered no.  The next day, news of this event hit the newspapers.   People read the story of how the king went out in plain clothes and asked someone at the park how he was and if there was anything he can do for him.  When the man who was in the park read the paper and realized that he had been sitting next to the king, he was devastated at having missed this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  He had a long list of requests that could have been fulfilled by the king. We know that Hashem is always with us.   We can always ask Hashem to fulfill our requests and needs, but during the month of elul, Hashem is even closer to us, "right next to us on that park bench."  He's waiting for each and every one of us to call out to him, to cry out to Him, to return to Him.  Let's not miss the opportunity of this month!

#2. LEARNING FROM THE COBBLER - Once on Rosh Chodesh Elul, the rabbi, Rabbi Levi Yitchak of Berditchev was standing at his window as a gentile cobbler passed by.  "Have you nothing to mend," the cobbler asked the tzaddik.  The tzaddik immediately fell to the ground and wept bitterly.  "Woe is to me and alas for my soul for the day of judgement is almost upon us, and I have so many things to mend!" (Zichron L'Rishonim)

#3.TESHUVAH -

May it be Your will that You, Hashem, place in our hearts the desire to repent before you so that we shall not be ashamed in front of our fathers in the world to come. (Jerusalem Talmud, Brochos 4:2)

#4. MEET ME HALFWAY -

A prince was once a 100 days journey away from his father.  His friends urged him to return to his father but he replied, "I can not because I do not have the strength to return on such a long journey."

His father, the king, upon hearing of his response sent word to him saying, "If you cannot return all the way, come back as far as your strength will allow and I will go the rest of the way to meet you."

So, the Holy One, blessed be He, says to his nation, Israel, "Return onto Me and I shall return onto you." (See Pesikta Rabbasi  44, 9)

#5. TO IGNITE A FIRE, YOU NEED A SPARK -

A nonbeliever once approached the Dubno Maggid and challenged him to see whether he can influence him with his words of wisdom and transform his from a sinner into a righteous man.  The Maggid told him the following parable.

A city man once came to a primitive village where he observed a crowd of people at a place where they were attempting to fan a small fire into flames by blowing with the force of their lungs. 

He explained to them that they could save a lot of effort if they would have a pair of bellows that would the fan the fire for them.  The villagers did not even know what bellows were, wo the visitor made them a pair and left it for them as a gift.  When he returned a few weeks later the villagers pounced on him and anrily told him that his bellow did not work.  They had tried with all their might to press and push the bellows but they could never start the fire.  After inspecting the bellows, the city man told them that they were in perfect working order and he did not understand why they did not work.

"Let me see how you used them," he said to them.  "First of all, where are your lit coals?"

"You mean we need lit coals to," the simple villagers asked in astonishment!

"Fools," replied the man, "bellows alone can do nothing.  If there is already a lit fire, the bellows can fan that fire into great flames, but you must have the first sparks to begin with."

Said the Dubno maggid to the agnostic, "My words can only influence a person who has a spark of Yiddishkeit already in his soul.  I can attempt to ignite that spark and fan it into a bright flame of Torah and mitzvah observance, but as for you, whose soul is quite obviously dead, the spark has been extinguished.  No words of mine can affect you no matter how inspiring they may be." (Dubno Maggid) 

#6. It's Not The Drums, They Are Only A Signal

The Dubno Maggid would tell the following parable during the Yamim Noraim.

A simple man on a visit to an island was awakened one night by the loud beating of drums. Startled, he inquired as to what was going on, and he was informed that there was nothing to worry about. A fire had broken out, but the drummers had been alerted, and the fire had soon been extinguished.

In his naivete, he thought the drums were magic and could extinguish fires. He purchased a few of the most expensive sets on the island and had them shipped to his home town. He distributed the drums to his neighbors, and told them not to worry about the next fire that would strike the drums would take care of everything. Soon enough another fire broke out the people all began frantically beating their drums while he calmly assured them that everything was going to be all right. To his dismay, one house after another burned to the ground, and it was soon apparent that the drums were worthless.

Immediately, in his fury and shame he returned to the island to inquire what happened. "Foolish man," they told him, "Did you really think it was the beating of the drums that put out the fire? The drums were merely a signal to our highly efficient fire brigade to douse the fire with water."

The same is true for us, said the Maggid. There are foolish people that believe that merely blowing the shofar, beating our breasts (as we do on Yom Kippur), or just raising our voice during prayers will extinguish the raging fires of sin and evil that burn within us. They are badly mistaken. These are only the alarm signals that must rouse us from our spiritual slumber, cause us to repent sincerely and to mobilize our Torah learning, mitzvos, and good deeds. Only these are the real waters that can extinguish the fires.

#7. The Master Key- A Broken Heart

Before one Rosh Hashana, the Baal Shem Tov, who was to blow the shofar, instructed Rabbi Zev Kitzes, who was to call out the shofar notes, to learn the secret meanings of the shofar blasts. He did so, and even wrote them down on a slip of paper so that he can look at them at the appointed time.

When the time came, Rabbi Zev attempted to bring out the paper, which he thought was safely tucked into his kitel. To his utter dismay he could not find it, and in his confusion could not remember any of the special hidden meanings. Broken hearted and weaping, he called out the shofar blasts to the Baal Shem Tov without any special thoughts in mind.

After the shofar blowing had been completed, the Baal Shem Tov told Rabbi Zev the following: "In a king's palace there are hundreds of rooms, and on the door of each room there is a different lock that requires a special key to open it. But there is a master key which can open all the locks. That is a broken heart. When a person sincerely breaks his heart before Hashem his prayers can enter through all the gates and into all the rooms of the celestial palace of Hashem." (Or Yesharim)

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# 8. Here is a comment I recieved 8-31-08 it talks about the importance of Chodesh Elul 

i would like to share one more story. i am a b'h, bli ayin hora, two time survivor of breast cancer. The first time, i was diagnosed in Chodesh Elul. i was terrified and used all of my energy to channel my fears into the power of Chodesh Elul and Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. b'h , i really felt that i had given it my "all" and b'h after the yomim tovim i had my treatments and the cancer was gone. Four years later,, it returned.. YOU GOT IT!!!. In CHodesh Elul again!! This time, i was thrilled and THANKED Hashem for the phenomenal timing again that i had the zchus and power of Elul and the Yomim Noraim to daven my heart out!! and again, b'h after yomtov, i had the necessary surgeries and today, b'h many years later, ( bli ayin hora )i am cancer free!! soo please, understand that CHODESH ELUL has tremendous power of tefilah and beseeching Hashem for whatever it is that we need or want from Hashem!! IT is the BEST time of the year to cry out and storm shamayim with our hearts, tears and of course to also give tzedakah to help "Divrei Chizuk", or any worthy cause of your choice. Teshuva, Tefila and Tzedakah are the MAGIC formula for blessings this time of year! May we all get chizuk from each other and bring Mashiach soon to bring us to a world of peace, good health and total shalom!! shavua and chodesh tov! ms

added 8-19-09 

B'zchus this, Miriam bas Leah Bayla should find a shidduch b'korov and Hashem should focus on all the wonderful, daily, Torah filled emails that many people

read and grow from and use all the Malachim created from this incredible Kiddush Hashem to wipe out any and all evil decrees against us C'V and at the same time

bring Bracha and Hatzlocha. AMEN!!!!

 

#9 The Mashel:

There was once a king coming to visit a city under his control. Just like when Obama comes to town there are police and secret service men lined along the road for miles and hours ahead of his arrival. this king also had his guards line the entire road that he would be traveling on. Obviously there were men that were stationed all the way at the end of the road and the king would not be anywhere near that area for quite a while but, orders are orders.

Now this particular day was very hot and humid and the guards, standing in full gear, were sweating profusely.  One of the guards at the end of the road was extremely hot and all he wanted to do and was jump into the river that was nearby. But he had to stand in his position, if the king were to come and he wasn’t there he was finished. There were no radios and he had no way of knowing if the king was ten minutes or hours away. And at one point he could no longer take it and ran to the river. As he was enjoying the refreshing water he lost himself in a mesmeric trance only to be startled by the sound of drums and trumpets announcing the arrival of the kings procession. The guard did not know what to do, he couldn’t get dressed and make it back to his place before the king would arrive but he also couldn’t stand in his position completely unclothed!  

He decided that it was better to be there then not at all so he ran and stood in his place with out any clothes on and minutes later when the king passed and saw one of his guards standing undressed he stopped and summoned that man. The guard was very, very nervous and thought this was the end. He was standing naked in front of the king!! The king looked at him and said “I know it is very hot and you just wanted to cool off in the river but to stand here like this without any clothes on is very disrespectful and for that you should lose your head. But, I also know that you are standing here because you have to protect me and if you would not be here who knows what may happen. So even though your behavior is completely dishonorable and unbecoming of an officer, you did it for me and for that you will be allowed to go.”

 

The nimshol is: We think that we have done horrible and unspeakable things and thus are completely ashamed to stand before the Ribono Shel Olam but if we do stand before Him and offer sincere regret He will accept it. We shouldn’t hide behind our sins nor think that all hope is gone. It’s just the opposite. Hashem wants us to come back and come closer and despite our past deeds show that now we are ready, we have learnt from our mistakes and are here to change but we desperately need his help. Just like the guard knew it was better to be there then not at all, we need to confront our errors and beg for help so they won’t happen again. It’s never too late. 

8-31-08

#10. I loved your chizuk stories for Chodesh Elul! Wow.. what a great way to start the new Chodesh! Shavua and chodesh tov to all! i wanted to share something very special to me. Many of us have heard or read amazing Holocaust stories about the Blushever Rebbe. I grew up davening in his shteibel in Boro Park. i could not understand when i was a little girl, why the entire davening of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur,, the rebbe just cried and cried and cried. As i grew up and started reading the stories about the Rebbe,,i totally understood. HIs pain was soo tangible. I was just in Eretz Yisroel on Pesach and found at the "Holocaust Chambers" on Har Tzion a "metzvah" that was dedicated to the entire town of Blushev/ The entire town was destroyed by the Nazi's Yimach Shmam..On the "matzvah".. it was written that they had decided that "ROSH CHODESH ELUL" would forever be the "yahrzeit" of the town of Blushev. And so, if anyone would like to join me tonite..or tomorrow nite and light a yahrzeit candles li'elui all the precious and pure neshamas that were wiped out in the Holocaust..please feel free and may they be 'malitz yoshers' for all Klal Yisroel!! Chodesh Tov..by margie shabat

9-15-08

#11. This was told to me by a deer friend: It is from Yeshiva Nitiv Aryeh

Rav Nebenzahl on Parshat Ki Tetze

ROSH HASHANA - DYNAMITING THE FOUNDATIONS OF SIN / YOM KIPPUR - HAMMERING AWAY AT THE INDIVIDUAL BRICKS

Rosh Hashana is the first of the Aseret Yemei Tshuva. In what way does this manifest itself? Not only do we not recite viduy but we avoid any mention of sin in order not to awaken any prosecution against us (see Mishna Brura 584:3). We are permitted to think thoughts of tshuva in our hearts, but we do not make explicit verbal mention of sin. Why do we not confess and enumerate our sins on Rosh Hashana the way we do on Yom Kippur? In general, how does the fact that Rosh Hashana is one of the ten days of tshuva find expression? How can we count Rosh Hashana as one of the days of tshuva without confessing our sins? I thought we could use the following analogy to explain this idea. What would be if there was a high wall before us in this case the wall of sins separates us from Hashem "Rather your iniquities have separated between you and your G-d" (Yeshayahu 59:2) and we were commanded to knock it down. How should we go about our mission of knocking down the wall? There are two possible ways in which we can carry out this task - the first is to take a hammer and chisel and knock off stone after stone. This way is difficult and requires much effort. There is another method as well, and that is to dig under the foundation and use dynamite or some other explosive to knock it down. Once the foundation is knocked down, the entire wall will collapse all at once. At times this is a much quicker method.

This is precisely our task on Rosh Hashana. We do not knock down sin after sin, we do not recite "al chet shechatanu" and enumerate each of our wrongdoings - rather we, shake the foundation of sin - we dig under the foundation of the wall of separation. What is the foundation of the building of sins? Not recognizing Kingdom of Heaven. We think that there is something to be gained from sin, but it is all nothing. We will gain nothing by sinning. Hashem is King, what He says takes place, and if He does not decree it then it does not take place. When we truly understand this, we will not sin. Once we have done that, destroyed the foundations, it is much easier to confess on Yom Kippur for each of our sins. On Yom Kippur we strike at each brick - we spoke loshon hara, we violated the Shabbat, the Torah's usury laws, etc. We saw was that "it was to no avail" - we did not gain from it. Once we reach the clear recognition that Hashem is King and only His word is truth and nothing else, it makes the task of confessing on Yom Kippur with total regret much easier. The foundation of tshuva was laid on Rosh Hashana by shaking the foundation of the wall of sins.

We need to use a strong explosive to feel that the only good in this world is serving Hashem and recognizing the Kingdom of Heaven. When we do this on Rosh Hashana then we will have no trouble finishing off the tshuva process on Yom Kippur. Then with Hashem's help we will conclude Yom Kippur with a Gmar Chatima Tova and we will be blessed for a good year.

9-14-08 

#12. This story was sent to me by a very special person.

"I went to a Rosh Chodesh shuir in Chicago given by Rabbi/Dr. Jerry Lob. I want to share w/u an unbelievable story of chizuk that he told us.
There was a man who wanted to marry a woman who was an Agunah. An Agunah is not allowed to marry another man. (I came to the shuir a bit late, so i am not sure of the beginning details of the story ). Anyway, the man went to Rabbi M. Feinstein a'h and asked if he had permission to marry the Agunah. Rabbi Feinstein said he didn't know and he would check it out , but suggested that he  "wait till chodesh Elul and come back and ask me then". The reason he said, is because CHodesh Elul is a time that Hashem is so close to us and maybe, maybe, Hashem would listen to his tefilos and the Rav would find a way to allow this man to marry the Agunah. So, R. Feinstein davened and the man came back at the end of CHodesh Elul and unfortunately, Rabbi Feinstein said NO. The man was very distraught and so Rabbi Feinstein told him to come back during Aseres Yemei Teshuva because that time period is also a special time that hashem is very close to us and wants our teshuva and tefilos. Unfortunately, the time came and Rabbi Feinstein said that the answer was still NO! Again, the man cried and asked the RAbbi to keep praying for an answer and so, Rabbi Feinstein told him to come back after Neilah of Yom Kippur. FIFTEEN MINUTES after the yom kippur fast was over,, the RAv called this man and said YES!!!, u can marry the woman. The Rav said that he had used ALLL of his koach of tefila and dedicated that tefilah of NEilah to this man and Hashem put in his mind the answer to the shailah and now the man could marry the woman!! b'h a happy ending!
But the point of this story is that the FIRST time that the RAv suggested was Chodesh Elul, because he felt that this was an auspicious time for us to pray and ask Hashem to fulfill our tefilos and our personal needs! He said that in Elul , we may ask for things in a different way, because our relationship w/Hashem is more intimate during this month. the speaker also said that the challenge of chodesh Elul is to know that Hashem is here and that even if times are difficult right now, concentrate on feeling Hashem's presence because he is sooo close to us now!!!
may we all use the innate power of ELUL for tov and may u feel Hashem's closeness of Ani L'dodi V'dodi Li!!! have a great chodesh!

#13. Hashem is carrying you/us

There was once a person who died and went up to shamayim.  There he saw his whole life flash before him by the sea.  Whenever times were good, he saw two sets of footprints in the sand.  However, when times were rough, he only saw one set.  At the end  of the viewing, he turned to Hashem and asked, "Hashem, during my good times you were always with me, but when I needed you most, why did you leave me alone."  Hashem replied, "my beloved child, who I love more than anything, it was during those times that I was carrying you.

#14. Meet Me Half Way
A prince was once a hundred days journey away from his father. His friends urged him to return to his father but he replied:
"I cannot, for I do not have the strength to return on such a long journey." His father, the king, upon hearing of his response sent
word to him, saying: "If you cannot return all the way, come back as long as your strength will allow, and I will go the rest of the way to meet you.''
So the Holy One, blessed be He, says to His nation Israel: "Return unto Me, and I shall return unto you.''
(see Pesikta Rabbasi 44, 9)


#15 But use your tears and learn how to cry!

During a lecture he delivered on Tisha B’av afternoon a number of years ago, Rabbi Fishel Shechter related a personal story that a woman had related to him:

“A number of years ago one of my children died and I was devastated. I became so depressed that I refused to leave my house. I was sure that I would never get over it and would never be able to get on with my life. Two months went by and things did not improve at all; in fact my misery and self-pity only deepened.

“I was invited to a wedding but I told my husband that I wasn’t going. I simply couldn’t. My husband knew how badly I needed to get out and, when he saw that he could not reason with me, he literally pushed me out of the house and locked the door. I banged on the door but my husband would not allow me back in. He called out that my dress and makeup were at a neighbor’s house and that I had to go to the wedding

“Seeing that I had no choice, I begrudgingly got dressed and went to the wedding. When I saw everyone dancing happily I became very upset. I felt that they had no right to be so happy. With a complete feeling of dejection, I walked over to a phone booth and picked up the phone. Tears streaming down my face, I said, “G-d, I don’t want to be here. Please get me out of here!”

“While I was standing there crying, one of the elderly women who was sitting at the door of the hall collecting charity noticed me and walked over to me. She placed her arms on my shoulder and gently asked me, “Mein kint, vos vaynst du- My child why are you crying?” I shot back at her, “You never lost a child!” She gently replied, “Really? I lost ten children during the war!  Why are you crying?” I looked at her in astonishment, “And you never cried?” “Oh, I cried! But I learned that there is no point of crying over the past. I learned to take advantage of my tears and to use them to cry for others. Whenever I cry I think about those who need salvation and I pray for them with my tears.”

Then she put her arms around me and said, “No one should tell you to stop crying. But use your tears and learn how to cry! Use your tears to pray for everyone you know who is suffering” Then she walked away.

For a few moments I just stood there lost in thought. Then I picked up the phone again and began to cry profusely. I thought about everyone I know who is going through a hard time and I cried for them. I thought about those who were in the hospital when I was there with my child and I cried for them. I cried for Klal Yisroel and I prayed for the future and for salvation and redemption.

“When I finished crying I never felt so happy in my life. I stepped into the center of the circle and I danced like I never danced in my life!”

#16. The Fire Alarm by the Dubno Magid

The Shofar is more than just the
"beating of drums."



A native villager, born and reared in an obscure rural environment, came to a big city for the first time and obtained lodging at an inn. Awakened in the middle of the night by the loud beating of drums, he inquired drowsily, "What's this all about?" Informed that a fire had broken out and that the drum beating was the city's fire alarm, he turned over and went back to sleep.

On his return home he reported to the village authorities: "They have a wonderful system in the big city; when a fire breaks out the people beat their drums and before long the fire burns out." All excited, they ordered a supply of drums and distributed them to the population.

When, some time later, a fire broke out, there was a deafening explosion of beating of drums, and while the people waited expectantly for the flames to subside, a number of their homes burned to the ground.

A sophisticated visitor passing through that village, when told the reason for the ear-splitting din, derided the simplistic native: "Idiots! Do you think a fire can be put out by beating drums? They only sound an alarm for the people to wake up and take measure to extinguish the fire."

Said the Maggid of Dubno, this story applies to those of us who believe that beating the breast during the Al Chet (confessional), raising our voices during worship, and blowing the shofar, will put out the fires of sin and evil that burn in us.

They are, the Maggid remarked, only an alarm, a warning to wake us up in order to resort to soul searching), so that we may merit the favor of God. The Maggid probably had in mind Maimonides' interpretation of the shofar sounds: "Awake all you who sleep, rouse yourselves all you who slumber and search your deeds and repent; remember your Creator."

 

#17 8-31-11
 

When the King Leaves the Palace

Rabbi Schneur Zalman said that it is a month of immense opportunity, not one of dejection.Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi revealed a new dimension to this month. He taught that G‑d is closer to us during this month, more so than any other time throughout the year. He said that it is a month of immense opportunity, not one of dejection.

In the Song of Songs, the verse (6:3) says, "I am to my Beloved and my Beloved is to me." In the original Hebrew (אני לדודי ודודי לי), these words' first letters spell out Elul (אלול). The verse teaches us that at this time G‑d's relationship to us is one of love and tenderness; He is our "Beloved."

It is this feeling of closeness and friendship that propels us to return to G‑d.

To illustrate this idea, Rabbi Schneur Zalman gives the following parable:

During the entire year, when the king is in his palace, for most there is no possibility for an audience with the king. Even from those who hope and apply for an audience, only a select few are actually granted one.

There comes a time, however, when the king is not in the capital city, he is out in the field. While there, every one of his subjects can go to greet him. The king graciously receives every single one of them and shows a happy and radiant face, granting them their requests.

They then escort him to the city; he enters his palace, where at that moment once again only a select few are granted an audience. Returning with the king, though, the dedicated subjects who greeted the king are now part of that exclusive group and are granted an audience with the king in his throne room.

The Analog

In His great love for us, during the month of Elul G‑d goes out to the fields.This parable parallels our relationship with G‑d during the High Holiday season.

Throughout the entire year, G‑d is reachable through fulfilling the Divine will – His precepts, the mitzvot – and immersing in His wisdom, the Torah.

An individual may feel, however, that he is not following the correct path, his passions are not holy, he is not living according to G‑d's blueprint. This individual is akin to the citizen who left the populated capital city and goes off to the unpopulated fields, or even further into the woods or desert. He has wandered away from the King's capital. Sensing how distant he is, he might feel totally estranged; he has no connection to the King.

In His great love for us, during the month of Elul G d goes out to the fields, making Himself available to all. This outpouring of love uplifts and encourages, even those of us who may feel very distanced due to our actions. When we see how G‑d graciously receives us in the field, smiling and granting our requests1, we resolve to once again reconnect and conduct ourselves in a manner befitting a loyal subject of the King.

And then, come the High Holidays, we escort the King back to the capital and settle there once again and actually join Him in His inner chamber.

This is the gist of Rabbi Schneur Zalman's teaching. Let us now study some (or, to be more accurate, a tip of the iceberg) of the Rebbe's insights on the parable.

Taking the First Step

The king is giving everyone the opportunity to greet him, but it has to be the subjects' desire to go and greet him.The verse quoted above states, "I am to my Beloved and my Beloved is to me." The order is precise. During this month we must take the first step towards our Beloved.

Being in a king's presence, as he majestically sits on his throne, engenders an incredible overwhelming awe within all those present. Upon entering the throne room and seeing the display of power and glory, all subjects prostrate themselves before the king. Speaking or even moving is only done with the king's consent. The subjects lose all sense of personal identity. They are simply subjects, nullified before the king's glory.

This all changes when the king goes out to the field. He is traveling, and as such he is unadorned by his crown and royal vestments. He is not displaying his majestic greatness and not evoking a response of great awe and respect. The subjects are not naturally gravitating to approach the king.2

The king is giving everyone the opportunity to greet him, but it has to be the subjects' desire to go and greet him. No one is forced to approach the king. Coming on their own is an expression of humility, an acknowledgement of the king and the need to relate to him.

This is why we traditionally increase our charity disbursement and prayers during the month of Elul—it is our way of taking the "first step." And every day we listen to the shofar (ram's horn) to awaken within ourselves the desire to approach the King and greet Him. The King is there in the field, giving us this special opportunity. But we must capitalize on it...

As opposed to Rosh Hashanah, when sounding the shofar is a biblical command, sounding the shofar during Elul is a Jewish custom, a product of our own initiative. It is us going out, with humility and joy, to greet the King, G‑d Almighty.

This declaration is extremely precious to G-d. We are not humbling ourselves because of the greatness of the day (as we do on the High Holidays), rather it is our own desire to humble ourselves before Him. This endears us to the extent that we then join the elite group that is granted an audience with the King.

Back to the Palace

The purpose of the entire creation is that we make of it, of "the lowest world," a "home for G‑d."

This is why G‑d comes to the field, and so loves when we receive Him there. His desire to be manifest in the "lowest world" is symbolized by the fact that He leaves the palace and goes into the lowly "field," where His subjects accept Him as their king.

But a home is more than a place where the owner happens to be, it is the place where he fully expresses himself. The house is decorated according to his taste, and he feels free to just "be himself" there.

While in the field, G‑d's full glory is not seen or displayed, as such the "home" created there for Him is incomplete.

To create the true divine home we must introduce the "palace" element, where G‑d's glory is completely revealed, where he wears His crown, royal garments, etc.

So when we accomplish the mission of demonstrating that even the "field" is governed by G‑d, we then follow Him into the palace where there is only He and us—which is the essence of the High Holidays. 

Believe in the Power of Yom Kippur

 

Based on Sichos Rav Shimshon Pincus

Wouldn't that be a nice document to have? Everything is absolved.

What's wrong with this comic is that Lucy wants to be absolved before the act. That won't make her a better person; just more uninhibited and malicious. We, however, are trying our best to be good. But being human we slip up. We all would like that document which absolves us afterwards.

Perhaps we don't recognize it, but deep down we all realize that we indeed possess it! The joy and singing that bursts out spontaneously after Neilah is the expression of that communal consciousness of the power of Yom Kippur. We are all absolved!

The question is, how long does it last? As Yom Kippur recedes further and further into the past, many of us feel that our pekelach have not really been removed. But surely the force of Yom Kippur has cleansed us (provided we did teshuva and recited the viduy). Every Yid must develop a profound internalization and awareness that Yom Kippur has really cleansed him from all his tarnish.

A serious internal infection requires antibiotics to treat it. Externally, the improvement resulting from the medicine isn't immediately apparent. However, it is working quietly beneath the surface until the infection is cured.

This is Yom Kippur. The purification achieved by one's teshuva effects a significant change deep within the person and he is no longer the same. It is belief in the power of the atonement of Yom Kippur that strengthens ones awareness ensuring that he actually feels like a different person.

One who doesn't believe in this personal renewal, however, will continue in the same bad habits as before Yom Kippur, and return to his previous ways. Every Jew has a deep-seated faith in Yom Kippur which should prompt him to feel joy, "how happy are you Yisroel. Before whom do you become purified, and who purifies you?" Who is it that testifies to Yisroel's purification? Their Father in Heaven. Hashem inspects everyone like a piece of cloth under a microscope to determine how wholesome he really is. And who does the cleaning? Who washed and scrubbed to remove all the stains? Hakadosh Baruch Hu is our mikveh! Every Yid immerses himself in the great mikveh of Hakadosh Baruch Hu himself. Yom Kippur has such a tremendous power it cleanses and purifies Klal Yisroel and elevates them drawing them near to their Father in Heaven. "For on this day He shall atone you to cleanse you. Before the Lord, you shall be purified from all your sins" (Vayikra 16:30).

The stronger our emuna in the power of Yom Kippur, the more careful will we be the coming year to remain clean and pure. The stronger the feeling of the purity of teshuva, the more one will exert himself not to return to the tarnish of his old ways.

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Throw Away Your Pekelach

Rav Yerucham Levovitz, zt"l, Mashgiach of pre WWII Yeshivas Mir, didn't usually give mussar shmuezen on Hoshana Raba. He would give talks during Succos and Simchas Torah, but not Hoshana Raba. One year, at the persistence of the talmidim, he agreed to give a Hoshana Raba shmuez.

Rav Yerucham sat down, removed his glasses and was silent. He sat there for what seemed like an eternity. Then he quoted the possuk in Yeshaya (58:1-8) "Call with a [full] throat, do not spare…. 'Why have we fasted, and You did not see; we have afflicted our soul and You do not know'…. Behold, for quarrel and strife you fast, and to strike with a fist of wickedness…. Will such be the fast I will choose, a day of man's afflicting his soul? Is it to bend his head like a fishhook and spread out sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast and an acceptable day to the Lord? This is the fast I will choose: undo the fetters of wickedness, untie the bands of perverseness…. Then your light shall break forth as the dawn, and your healing shall quickly sprout…. Then you shall call and the Lord shall answer, you shall cry and He shall say, 'Here I am.'"

The Navi explains that of all the activities and proceedings of Yom Kippur, Hashem Yisborach desires only one thing - it's not enough to daven and cry out; to fast and say long vidui's; not even teshuva and reciting slichos. Hashem wants results!

"Undo the fetters of wickedness." These are the closed bundles that everyone has. He binds them up tight and hides them away. When Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur come he seals them up even tighter and buries them even deeper. Then he goes to shul to sing all the wonderful Yom Kippur piyutim and slichos with no worry about his bundles. They are safely hidden away and won't bother him. But he hasn't gotten rid of them yet. They're still there, waiting patiently. True, this has its advantages. All that wickedness is locked up and can't affect him. But the problem is that he hasn't touched his bundles at all. They are still there, packed to the brim and untouched. Therefore the navi cries out, ""Open up the fetters of wickedness."

Rav Yerucham raised his voice. "We just went through Yom Kippur. Now we are holding by Hoshana Raba. And we haven't emptied out our pekalach! The shofar shook the Throne of Glory, but it didn't shake us up! It didn't get us to open up the bundles we hid away. The culmination of Yom Kippur occurs when we open up our pekalach and empty them out. Don't hold on to your old habits. You've become a new person!"

This is the greatness of Klal Yisroel. Yom Kippur has absolved us. We possess that valuable document. Make good use of it.

Gmar Chasima Tova!