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Elul, the Jewish month before Rosh Hashanah
By Arie Davis
In the lore of the Mystics,
the month which precedes the Jewish New Year, the Jewish month
of Elul, is referred to as the time the king is in the field.
In other writings it is referred to by it's acrostic (meaning
that the letters of the words relate to a previous statement whose
first letters spell out Elul). The acrostic being "I am to
my beloved and my beloved is to me," a quote from the Song
of Love, or Shir HaShirim, by King Solomon. This clearly
alludes to Elul as being a time of love. These two statements
seem contradictory: one, that the king is in the field, and two,
that Elul represents "I am to my beloved and my beloved is
First, let us understand
what it means that the king is in the field. Normally, a king
is a person to whom general access is denied. To gain an audience
with a bonafide monarch, one must possess influence in the royal
courts. Only high ranking ministers have access to the king in
order to carry out their important work of maintaining the affairs
of the kingdom. To the average person, however, seeing the king
is a rarity; speaking with the king is not a possibility. The
king is secluded in his castle, busy with those pressing manners
which only he is fit to address.
When the mystics spoke
of the king as being in the field, the meaning is not that the
king is on the road, on a journey. The concept of being in the
field means that the king is in the field where the farmer toils.
The king has left his palace and is now touring the kingdom, examining
the status of the produce that is in the fields. At this time,
the king may be approached by the farmer. Why? Because when the
king descends into the field to see the status of the produce
in the field, he is showing his concern, not only for the produce
of the kingdom, but also for the inhabitants of the kingdom.
Now is the time for the
simple farmer to speak to the king. At this time he is accessible
by all who are in the fields. Not only can the farmer come forth
to greet the king, but the king himself will be delighted to hear
the needs of the farmer.
So too it is with us, during
the month of Elul, the King leaves his heavenly throne and descends
to inspect this world. All of his subjects now have the ability
to come to speak with him. This shows to the King their love and
respect for him and in return he accepts all who come to him.
The second statement, that Elul is the
time for love, "I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me,"
fits in very nicely with this concept. For to us, the King, is
our beloved and we desire only that our beloved will be ours.
Now especially, before the Jewish New Year, Rosh HaShanah, when
all mankind stand in judgement, we are given this opportunity
to present ourselves to the King of the Universe in a non judgmental
This meeting of the King prior to the
time of judgement is considered to be "sweetening of the
judgement." All that is required is a honest and true heart.
from the September 1998 Edition of the Jewish Magazine
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