There is a wonderful Chasidic tradition that refers to the month of Elul as the time when the “King is in the field”. What does that mean? Elul is that last month of the Hebrew calendar, preceding Rosh Hashanah (New Year). It roughly coincides with the month of September. This year the first day of Elul is August 19. During Elul, according to this tradition, the King will leave His “palace”, where normally we can only approach Him on special occasions. He will come out, put on common clothing, and make Himself available among His people where we work in the “field” every day. Elul is the beginning of the season of repentance and renewal that leads up to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Adding to the tradition of the intimacy of the King to His people during this month is the actual letters that form the word ELUL. The rabbi’s broke the Hebrew letters down to represent “ani l’dodi v’dodi lee”, which translates to the familiar verse, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine”.
God has divided time into the holy and mundane. Sabbath and the feasts are considered holy times, while the rest of the week is mundane where we engage in the normal activities of work and life. Elul is seen as a time when the holy and mundane merge. Every day of Elul is a little like Shabbat in the sense that because the “King is in the field”, we are to be more sensitive to the things that we do that keep us from putting God first in our lives. It is a time to restore the sense of awe toward the Holy One. We are to spend extra time in prayer, especially for personal repentance, reflection and renewal, and study of the Word. Traditionally the shofar is sounded every day during Elul. It is also a time for intercession where we focus on others, especially for the salvation and protection of Israel and the Jewish people. This should also lead us to put our prayers into action by finding ways to be a blessing, sharing our faith, and helping others in practical ways. As believers in Yeshua, we know that the King is “in the field” all the time. We know that Yeshua left His “palace” 2,000 years ago, and took on human “clothing” and is with us every day by His Spirit, “in the field” where we are everyday.
As we enter into this season our congregation is embarking on a 40 (Elul plus 10 days of awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) period of prayer and fasting, beginning August 19. Our Scripture for this season is taken from Isaiah 55:6-7: “Seek ADONAI while he is available, call on him while he is still nearby. Let the wicked person abandon his way and the evil person his thoughts; let him return to ADONAI, and he will have mercy on him; let him return to our God, for he will freely forgive”. Please join us in prayer and intercession for the salvation of our people. Also, please join us for one or more of our holiday services. For details, check out www.acmsboca.org.
At this time of year it is traditional to wish everyone L’shanah tova tekatevu, which means “may you have a good year and be written”, i.e in the “book of life”. For us as believers in Yeshua, a more appropriate greeting is, “May your name be inscribed in the Lamb’s book of life for eternity”.
Blessings in our Messiah, Rabbi Ira