Today is a special holiday - we are celebrating the new moon - the birth of the month of Elul. It's a time of preparation for the new year, reconnecting with G-d and to reconnect with each other! I love you, I miss you!Regular Announcements:
Friday August 20th - Friday Night Shabbat Dinner
Thursday August 26th - Hebrew Language and Learning Practice
Thursday September 9th - Second Night Rosh Hashanah Dinner
Sunday September 12th - Tashlich at the Park
Sunday September 26h - BBQ in the Sukkah
Save the date: Friday October 8th - Sunday October 10th ~ Open Tent Family Camping at Catalina State Park (in Tucson) ~ short interpretive nature hikes for the kids ~ ten mile hike opportunities for the big kids ~ Hohokam ruins for the anthropologists ~ showers for the squeamish ~ group games ~ campfire fun. Do I have everyone covered yet? :) Meals will be prepared according to the rules of Shabbos.
Beautiful Excerpts of Commentary on the meaning of Elul (I wouldn't post it if it weren't worth it!):
The month that we are now in, Elul, is the key to unlocking the inner and most potent meaning of the heart. As is well known, the Hebrew letters that make the word ?Elul,? an aleph, lamed, vav and lamed, are an acronym for the phrase (from the biblical Song of Songs): Ani L?dodi V?dodi Li, which means, ?I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me.?
The Zohar explains that at the beginning of Elul we are achor el achor meaning ?back to back? and by the end of Elul we are panim el panim meaning ?face to face.? But how can it be that we are back to back? Wouldn?t that imply that G-d has His back turned to us as well? How can we say such a thing when this is the month in which--as Chassidic master Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi teaches us-- "the King is in the field"? Is it not the month when G-d is more accessible than ever, when He is waiting for us to greet Him, when He is there for us in the "field" of our everyday lives?
The fact that we are described as back to back and then face to face is an incredible lesson. Often, when we feel angry, hurt, abandoned, whatever the root of our pain may be, we turn our back. When our back is turned, we have no idea of the state of the other. And it is often easier to believe that we are not the only one with a turned back. It is easier to think the other also turned around, that the other isn?t facing us at all, because if that is the case, then even if we turn around it won?t help, so why bother. Why make that first move only to turn around and see the back of the other?
It is the month of Elul that teaches us the necessity of being willing to turn around. The King is in the field, our Creator is there, and no matter how we may feel, He has never had His back turned. All we need to do is turn ourselves around to realize that He is there and waiting for us. The ?back to back? that we experience in the beginning of the month is based on our misperceptions, our fears, our assumptions. Only when we turn around do we realize the truth, the inner essence, and then we are ?face to face? which does not only mean that we can finally look at each other, but more so, that we can look in each other, for the root of the word for face, panim, is the same as pnimiyut, which means ?innerness.?
--------------------------------------------If you read this far and still want more, this is also amazing. Same article.
So now the question is how this lesson is taught to us, not only in the month of Elul, but through the name ?Elul? itself. As we said above, the word Elul is comprised of an aleph followed by a lamed followed by a vav followed by the final letter, another lamed. The first letter in Elul is also the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet. The letter aleph is numerically equivalent to one, which represents the idea of G-d?s total unity.
In Hebrew, the word for heart is lev which is spelled lamed-beit. Rabbi Abraham Abulafia, in the year 1291, wrote a manuscript by the name, Imrei Shefer, in which he defines the meaning of the heart.
Rabbi Abulafia teaches that the word heart, lev, lamed ? beit, needs to be understood as two lameds. This is because the letter beit is the second letter in the alphabet, and is numerically equivalent to two. So he explains that the word needs to be read and understood as two lameds.
But it is not enough to have two lameds. As Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh explains, in order for their to be a relationship, the two lameds need to be connected. They need to be face to face. When we turn around the second lamed to face the first, we form the image of the Jewish Heart. While the heart, as we are used to seeing it, is quite clear in this form, an entirely new part of the heart is also revealed.
This is because the letter lamed is the tallest of all the letters in the Hebrew alphabet. The reason is because the lamed represents the concept of breaking out of boundaries, of going beyond your potential, of entering the superconscious from the conscious.
The lamed also means two things simultaneously. It means both ?to learn? and ?to teach? which shows us that the two are intertwined and both are essential. In a relationship, I must be willing to learn from the other, thereby making myself a receiver. Yet the other person also must be able to learn from me, which then makes me the teacher, the giver.
Furthermore, the image of the lamed can be broken down into three other letters. The top part of the letter is that of a yud, the smallest of the Hebrew letters, and the letter that represents the head. The head contains the mind, the intellect, but also the face.
The next letter in Elul is a vav. In Hebrew, the vav serves as a conjuctive "and." As a word vav means ?hook? and in its form it looks like a hook. So in this case the vav is the hook which is connecting the yud, the mind, with the bottom letter, the chaf, which represents the body. Physically speaking it symbolizes the neck which transports the flow of blood from the brain to the heart.
This teaches us that the heart, that the love that it represents, can only thrive, can only flourish, when there is a totality in connection. The Jewish heart, true love, represents a mind to mind, face to face, eye to eye, body to body, soul to soul connection. The vav, the connection between the head and the heart must always stay healthy with a clear flow. If anything cuts it off, the relationship cannot continue. As we all know, one of the quickest ways to kill a person is a slit right across the neck. The neck is our lifeline. It ensures that our head, our intellect, rules above our emotions and that there is a healthy interchange between the mind and the heart.
The heart that we are all familiar with, the symbol that represents love throughout the world, lacks the yud and the vav, it is missing the mind and the neck. The popular symbol represents only the physical connection between bodies.
So this is why and how Elul is the month that begins back to back and ends face to face. At the beginning of the month we are unaware of the reality that ?I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me.? However, by working on ourselves during this month, by being willing to turn around and make changes, we come to realize that our Creator has never had His back turned. He has always been facing us and just waiting for us to turn around. And once we do, we are then like two lameds that are face to face, which form the Jewish heart and is the essence of the month of Elul.
Excerpted from: http://www.chabad.org/theJewishWoman/article_cdo/aid/424441/jewish/The-Jewish-Heart.htm
Light & Love,