The shofar blast after prayers tomorrow will herald the opening of the heavenly gates of mercy. The sharp call of the shofar arouses us to put away whatever things have been distracting us from HaShem and to return to Him. We are awakened to rise from our spiritual slumber. We begin the 40 day period of soul-searching and self-improvement which culminates in Yom Kippur. During these yamim noraim we must take an honest look at our conduct in the past year, examine our failings and seek to raise ourselves up.
During the yamim hanoraim, the King is in the field. During the rest of the year, the King sits in His palace and only His servants, ministers and courtiers have access to the inner sanctum. It is extremely difficult to get an audience with the King. But with the blast of the shofar on Rosh Chodesh Elul, the King will leave His palace to sit in the field. During this time, all of the King's subjects can go before Him, petition to Him, speak to Him and have their requests granted. Here's how Chassidic master Rebbe Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812), describes the month of Elul - the month that precedes the divine coronation on Rosh Hashanah:
"It is like a king who, before he enters the city, the people of the city go out to greet him in the field. There, everyone who so desires is permitted to meet him; he receives them all with a cheerful countenance and shows a smiling face to them all. And when he goes to the city, they follow him there. Later, however, after he enters his royal palace, none can enter into his presence except by appointment, and only special people and select individuals. So, too, by analogy, the month of Elul is when we meet G-d in the field..."(Likkutei Torah, Re'ei 32b; see also Likkutei Sichot, vol II p. 632 ff.)
The astrological sign of Elul is Virgo, the Virgin. Elul is an acronym for Ani leDodi ve'Dodi Li', I am for my Beloved as my Beloved is to me. In this month, we are reunited with our Beloved, HaShem. He is accessible to every single one of us. The gates of mercy are opened and HaShem has compassion on each one of us. Whatever sins have cut us off from Him throughout the year are forgotten and we once again become pure and sinless.
We add Psalm 27 to the end of our morning and evening services.
1. By David. The Lord is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life-whom shall I dread? 2. When evildoers approached me to devour my flesh, my oppressors and my foes, they stumbled and fell. 3. If an army were to beleaguer me, my heart would not fear; if war were to arise against me, in this I trust 1 4. One thing I have asked of the Lord, this I seek: that I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the pleasantness of the Lord, and to visit His Sanctuary. 5. For He will hide me in His tabernacle on a day of adversity; He will conceal me in the hidden places of His tent; He will lift me upon a rock. 6. And then my head will be raised above my enemies around me, and I will offer in His tabernacle sacrifices of jubilation; I will sing and chant to the Lord. 7. Lord, hear my voice as I call; be gracious to me and answer me. 8. In Your behalf my heart says, "Seek My countenance"; Your countenance, Lord, I seek. 9. Do not conceal Your countenance from me; do not cast aside Your servant in wrath. You have been my help; do not abandon me nor forsake me, God of my deliverance. 10. Though my father and mother have forsaken me, the Lord has taken me in. 11. Lord, teach me Your way and lead me in the path of righteousness, because of my watchful enemies. 12. Do not give me over to the will of my oppressors, for there have risen against me false witnesses, and they speak evil. 13. [They would have crushed me] had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14. Hope in the Lord, be strong and let your heart be valiant, and hope in the Lord.
Ketivah v'chatima tovah. May we all be written and inscribed in the Book of Life.
Cross-posted from the For Zion's Sake