In the next week and a half, we will be entering the Hebrew month of Elul, 30 days of “Divine forgiveness and kindness”. This is embodied in the word ELUL, an acrostic abbreviation of the Hebrew verse in Songs of Solomon (6:3): Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li (I am for my Beloved and my Beloved is mine).
The Shofar is sounded every day during the month of Elul, giving us a constant reminder that the days of giving account of our year is at hand.
Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (18th c. Hasidic master) explains the month of Elul as follows: The king’s usual place is in the capital city, in the royal palace. Anyone wishing to approach the king must go through the appropriate bureaucratic channels and gain the approval of a succession of secretaries and ministers. The visitor must journey to the capital and pass through the many gates, corridors and antechambers that lead to the throne room. His presentation must be meticulously prepared, and he must adhere to an exacting code of dress, speech and mannerism upon entering into the royal presence.
However, there are times when the king comes out to the fields outside the city. At such times, anyone can approach him; the king receives them all with a loving and radiant countenance. This is the character of the month of Elul, also known as the month when “The King is in the Field”.
Elul is an auspicious time to move closer to and with G-d. Of course, we have a direct connection with Him all-year-round. Of course, we can ask for forgiveness at any moment – the sages make it clear that the Gates of Forgiveness are always open. But like in any business or organization, there is an allocated time at the end of a year for planning, revisiting the year’s accomplishments, assessing if we’re on target, squaring accounts and sharpening our approach. This is not a modern-day idea. It’s been instituted from the beginning of time. Elul is that one-on-one meeting with the Boss – in your office cubicle, not His, whilst you are preparing your end-of-the-year report.
Align with Zion’s main purpose is to teach those who are serious about their walk with G-d to learn how to move with G-d more effectively, on His timetable, in the spheres He allocated – including and specifically in acknowledging and aligning with the earthly, physical Jerusalem as well as partnering and aligning with the People of Israel, the Jewish People.
Understanding these eternal, Biblical dynamics allows us not only to move more effectively in our spiritual walk with G-d through harnessing these perpetual cycles, but as a result also not to be counterproductive. Your precious efforts out of sync with His Divine system, can be a very frustrating and disappointing experience, and on no fault from His side! Your efforts in sync and in line with His can take you exponentially further than you can ever do by yourself. And that, was actually the idea from the start!