Tomorrow night, Shabbat as well as on Sunday, the Jewish world is going to celebrate the new month of ELUL (Rosh Chodesh ELUL). Elul together with Tishrei (following Elul) are my personal favourite months of the year. Others love Purim or Pessach, I am tremendously in love with Rosh HaShana and Sukkot. It doesn't mean, I am leaving out Yom Kippur but, as you know, food is missing although we have to be like angels on that day and lift ourselves up without earthly needs. Especially in Chassidut, the month of Elul is extremely important because on the 18th day, we celebrate the birth of the great chassidic master, the Baal Shem Tov (born in 1698 or 1700).
Generally, Elul is the month of Teshuva (repentance) and this concerns all of us. On Rosh HaShana, G - d is going to judge the whole world, including Jews and non - Jews, and all of us should make some kind of an effort by getting closer to the Creator and especially by looking into ourselves. Use Elul and look at all your actions throughout the year. In Hebrew this is called "Cheshbon Nefesh" and means that you should ask yourself, where you are standing in this world. How is each Jew connected to his fellow Jew and is he having a relationship with G - d ? Could he do better and how ?
The Baal Shem Tov said that in Elul, "The King is in the Field - HaMelech Ba'Sade". Meaning that every person is able of having an easier approach to G - d Himself. Throughout the rest of the year, G - d is usually judging or listening to our prayers through intermediaries such as His Sefirot (symbolic for His character traits). During Elul, Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, we can reach such a high level where we make G - d Himself refer to us.
Going out in a field is not to be taken literally although many people (such as Breslover Chassidim) do go out in order to talk to G - d. And, as I said before, Elul is the time of looking and analyzing our own actions. Are we as approachable to others as G - d is ? Maybe we should learn from Him how to show some more Chesed and judge people more favourably. What would we say if G - d judged us as harsh as we sometimes judge other people ?
Chesed (kindness), prayer and giving charity (Zedakah) are the attributes of the month of Elul. Show mercy upon others and look at the other side of a person.
How else can we do Teshuva in Elul ?
By studying more Torah and thus getting closer to G - d. The Torah is not to be seen as a little story and book full of laws. We have to realize that the Torah is talking to us today and is giving us a special message we need to understand. If we do get the message, we will have a great and successful month of Elul and be successfully inscribed into the Book of Live (by G - d).