So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days. And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God. Nehemiah 6:15-16, KJV
The month of Elul is first mentioned in the Old Testament in the Book of Nehemiah Chapter 6 verse 15. The walls of Jerusalem are now complete on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. The walls of Jerusalem served as protection for the children of Israel from their enemies. Nehemiah acknowledges that this work was only possible with the help of their God, the God of their forefathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The One who protects is God and the central vocation of man is to seek God and live: to get right with God with a fixed heart in repentance through Christ Jesus our Lord. A heart that is well-guarded and PROTECTS ITSELF FROM THE DESTROYER OF THE SOUL for from it flows the spring of life.
The Sixth Hebrew month Elul – begins the evening of August 26 and ends on September 24 – is a month of reckoning of past mistakes, repentance to and reconciliation with God. During the month of Elul, the people of God remember the words recorded by the Prophet Zechariah in Chapter 1 :3: RETURN TO ME AND I WILL RETURN TO YOU. We have the opportunity to return to God and plead for mercy and forgiveness and to start a new walk of obedience and resolution to correct past mistakes and make it right with God. There is a deep desire to connect with God and be one with God. God should be our ONLY love and there should be no other love outside of God.
The month of Elul (E,L,u,L -aleph, lamed, vav, lamed) has 5 basic acronyms that allude to 5 basic responsibilities that one should focus on throughout the month: Firstly, A Study of the Torah – To study the Word of God is the highest form of worship. In this month, the Hebrew tradition is to seek “protection”. If someone is being pursued by a family member, the person seeks refuge in the city of refuge away from the pursuer who wants to kill him. In the month of Elul, we are to seek protection from every evil inclination of our hearts to sin before God. Elul is a month of returning to God with a broken spirit and a fixed and contrite heart.
5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Genesis 6: 5; KJV
The Second acronym of Elul is the concept of Prayer: Prayer is a romance. It is spiritual intimacy between man and God. Prayer / Tefillah means connection. E,L,u,L (aleph, lamed, vav, lamed) is an acronym for the Hebrew verse, Song of Songs 6: 3: I am to my beloved as my beloved is to me: Ani le’dodi ve‘dodi li. When a man prays, he has to know to whom he is praying to: ‘KNOW BEFORE WHOM YOU STAND’. To ‘know’ is a euphemism for intimacy. John 17:3 Jesus prayed, “Now this is eternal life; that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.
The Third acronym is the concept of Charity: It represents the idea of giving and giving generously. Repentance / Teshuvah is always linked with Tzedakah / Charity.
The Fourth acronym is Repentance and Redemption: The word “Elul” is similar to the root of the verb “search” in Aramaic. Elul is seen as a time to search one’s heart and draw close to God. God will circumcise the hearts rendering the heart steadfast and fixed. Repentance / Teshuvah takes place in the heart. It is not of our own doing but a gift from God. By circumcision of the heart, a covenant is made with God to act justly, walk humbly and love mercy (The Micah Mandate; Micah 6: 8). Only when the heart is fixed can one return to God. Only when the heart is fixed can one praise God.
My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise. Psalm 57: 7
The Fifth acronym is Worship: To sing to God. When Moses sees the parting of the Red Sea, they sing the Song of Moses, a song of liberation (Exodus 15). Elul represents a sense of liberation from all previous mistakes, and from all limitations and to move on to a new reality, a new beginning with the LORD.
The Relationship of ‘An Awakening’ between man and God and God and man:
‘I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine’ in Song of Songs 6: 3 is expressed as an “Awakening from Below” and an “Awakening from Above”. In the month of Elul, we (man) initiate the relationship of getting right with God first. In Psalm 108, the sweet singer of Israel, David, awakens his soul after his heart is fixed: An ‘Awakening from Below’:
Psalm 108: 1-5: O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory. 2 Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early. 3 I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations. 4 For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds. 5 Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: and thy glory above all the earth;…
Then this results in an ‘Awakening from Above’: Psalm 108: 13: Through God we shall do valiantly: for He it is that shall tread down our enemies. It promotes a deeper connection between the finite dimension of man and his actions and the infinite reality of a friendship with God that is enveloped in unconditional everlasting love. ‘My beloved is mine’ signifies an eternal bond between Christ Jesus and man which is unshakeable and where personal transformation results in the washing away of iniquities ‘as white as snow’ (Psalm 51: 7). Personal redemption as well as all of creation is redeemed. God is to be exalted in all the nations.
The Ministry of Reconciliation: Elul is a season of Reconciliation between man and God.
Rabbi Sha’ul, Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God writing to the church of God in Corinth says:
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.…2 Corinthians 5: 17 – 19.
1. Aaron L. Raskin, Chabad Emissary of Brooklyn Heights
2. HIS-ISRAEL: Elul, The Sixth Hebrew Month by Keren Hannah and Cindy Lou