Tuesday, August 10, 2010

ELUL has begun


Today and tomorrow, the Jewish world is celebrating the beginning of the month of ELUL. What happened on that day was that Moshe went up onto Mount Sinai in order to ask G - d to forgive the Jews for their sin with the Golden Calf. Fourty days later, on 10 Tishrei, Moshe returned into the Israelite camp together with the second tablets (Luchot). G - d forgave the Jews - This day we call YOM KIPPUR.

Yom Kippur is the highest Jewish holiday and the upcoming Yom Kippur in September is falling on a Shabbat. A "Shabbat Shabbaton" and when Yom Kippur falls on a Shabbat, it is the only time when we are allowed to fast on a Shabbat. Otherwise fast days such as Ta'anit Esther etc. are delayed until Sunday.

Erev Rosh HaShana (the Jewish New Year) is going to start on the evening of September 8. Then G - d is going to judge the whole world. No matter if Jew or Gentile - anything is being judged. The difference is that the Gentile world is "only" being judged for another year on Rosh HaShana itself whereas the final verdict for each individual Jew is only made on Yom Kippur (ten days later).

Now, approximately one month before G - d's judgement, we should reflect our deeds and behaviour from this outgoing year. Regret our sins and promise following a more positive path.

One custom in Elul is to blow the Shofar (rams horn) during the prayer service. This is a custom and doesn't find any mentioning in the Torah. Usually the Shofar is blown from the second day of Elul. The Shofar has the task to arouse in us the desire to return to G - d and walk in His ways.

According to the Chabad book "Sha'arei HaMoadim" another custom is praying the Mizmor "Le'David Uri …". Starting already on the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul.

The Ramban (Nachmanides) says that ELUL is not a Hebrew word but originates in ancient Babylon. The book "Sha'arei HaMoadim" states a kabbalistic concept on why Jews also use names for months (e.g. Elul or Nissan) from a foreign language such as Babylonian. Everything in this world contains a good spark and we have to elevate the good and bring it to the upper spiritual worlds. Thus, Jews do their "Tikun Olam - Soul Rectification" in this world. All seventy languages which were created by G - d (see "Migdal Bavel - the Tower of Babylon with Nimrod) thus contain good and we are taking the good spark out and elevate it.

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