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Elul: I am for my Beloved

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“I am for my Beloved and my Beloved is for me.” These beautiful words, authored by King Solomon in Shir HaShirim 6:3, in the orginal Hebrew,

“Ani ledodi vedodi li,”

present to us a mnemonic for Elul, the Hebrew month which will be commencing this coming Sunday.

Our Sages tell us that the word ‘dodi’ – my beloved – can refer to a person that one feels very close to and also to the Almighty Himself, whom we are commanded in the Shema to love with all our hearts, with all our souls and with all our minds. Therefore this verse highlights for us the importance of deepening and enriching our relationships with our fellow human beings and with Hashem.

The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, remarkably in pre-computer times, provides us with three additional mnemonics in the Bible for Elul. We will see how these additional three verses all amplify the very same message.

The second verse comes from the book of Esther 9:22. It is well known and refers to the mitzvot of mishloach manot and matanot l’evyonim – giving portions of food and alms to the poor on the festival of Purim. The verse is,

“Ish lerei’ehu umatanot l’evyonim,”

the first letters of which spell Elul.

The third verse comes from the book of Shemot 21:13 and teaches us that a person who tragically takes the life of another by mistake,

“Vehaelokim ina leyado vesamti lecha makom,” – if one’s hands slips and as a result a life is taken, then one is able to flee to one of the cities of refuge.

Here the message concerns the care we must take over the life, the welfare and the wellbeing of others.

The fourth verse from the book of Devarim 30:6 tells us,

“Umal Hashem Elokeicha et levavcha v’et levav zarecha,” – “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the hearts of your descendants,”

indicating how our connection with Hashem must be whole and perfect.

So therefore we find that the month Elul which provides for us 30 days of preparation for the High Holy Days must be a period of introspection, a time when we focus on our priorities in our lives, a time when we recognise how crucially important it is for us to come closer to Hashem and for us also to deepen our relationships with our fellow human beings, so that by the time we get to Rosh Hashana, we can indeed exclaim, “Ani ledodi vedodi li,” – “I am for my Beloved and my Beloved is for me.”

Shabbat shalom.