Elul is the 12th month of Biblical calendar that lasts for 29 days and corresponds to August-September of the Gregorian calendar. The name of the month originates from Arameic “ve-elilu” – which means “to probe, contemplate, or analyze”. This biblical month precedes the fall biblical feasts. The first of these feasts is Rosh ha Shana (Jewish New Year, that is known in the Scripture as Yom Troah – or remembrance of the trumpet sound), when according to the tradition, God judges all He’s created.
On this month, a man probes himself, analyzes his life, the mistakes he’s made, and prepares himself for purification. For this reason, Psalm 27 is typically read during these days: “The Lord is my light and my salvation”. “My light” – according to Hebrew tradition pertains to Rosh ha Shana, the words “my salvation” – to Yom Kippur. And the words that follow “he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent” very much remind of the Sukkot feast.
Since the beginning of time, the days of Elul month are days of grace. When Jewish people sinned by making the golden calf, the tablets of the covenant were broken, Moshe went up the mountain of Sinai and begged God to forgive the people for their sin. God had mercy on the Israelites by giving them the new tablets of the covenant. These events took place from Elul, 1 to Tishri, 10 (the beginning of the Yom Kippur feast) – 40 days. These 40 days were established as days of mercy in all generations of Abraham’s descendants, and became the main reason for confession and atonement. Since the Elul days are for analyzing our lives for the past year, in accordance with Hebrew tradition, we spend every day of this month purifying, forgiving, and confessing in order to start the New year without any burdens of old problems, sins, and mistakes.
Starting from Elul, 1 and extending to the day preceding the Rosh ha Shana eve, the trumpet is blown four times a day in synagogues to remind us of the events when Moshe went up to the Most High and received new tablets of the Covenant. This reminder aims to awaken the longing in every person’s heart for teshuvah – repentance and returning to close relationship with the Lord.
“When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble?” (Amos 3:6). The trumpet sound is also saying: “Wake up you who are asleep and in slumber. Search through your actions and do teshuvah” During this month, every believer should make a thorough analysis of how he’s been fulfilling his duties before the Lord throughout the past year: How he studied the Scripture, prayed, tithed and gave alms, and helped the needy, how he invested in his relationships with other people. It’s an opportunity to examine our hearts and search for weaknesses and character flaws. It is also an opportunity to ask yourself, “how am I fulfilling God’s plan for my life?”.
As the Holy Spirit is showing us our sins, we pray “slikhot” (meaning “forgive”). By doing this we break down everything that separates us from God.
If there are challenges in our lives and we find it difficult to fulfill the commandment “rejoice always” – think of the way David responded to hard times in his life (Psalm 30:2-9). The help from the Lord inevitably comes when we start celebrating God’s victory before it’s really manifested. And God grants us (just like David) a lot more than we expected.
For that we need:
- To be sure that God is our Daddy, Who will never forsake us. For He has a purpose for each one of us and we’ll definitely fulfill it, for He Himself leads us there.
- To rejoice as if God has already answered our prayers: Whenever we are oppressed by fears, depression, sadness and bitterness, REJOICE before God restores our health, families, work etc., as David did. Rejoice in faith as though God has already done it!
- To make a decision: whatever happens, before positive changes are visible, not to complain, regret, take offence or shed tears over your destiny, but rejoice always over God’s victory in our lives. Because our Lord has already secured the final victory and sees us in His triumphal procession (2Corinthians 2:14)
While Elul is not yet over, it’s important to pray that God would reverse all the ungodly accusations in our lives. These accusations were pronounced either by the devil, other people, or even ourselves. He already nailed these accusations to the cross on Calvary. Pray that these lies and accusations are destroyed by the power of the cross.
It’s a Hebrew tradition to visit the graves of the relatives during Elul. We can expand this tradition by visiting the grave sites where Jews who died during Holocaust were buried, or go to the Jewish cemetery and tidy up there.