Hard to believe that Rosh Chodesh Elul begins later today. The last month of 5770 is here. But more importantly the preparations for the New Year begin with this day. The month of Elul is a time of training. Much like training for a marathon. Each day we are to deepen our reflection and preparation for atonement, repentance, and forgiveness. To enter into the New Year we have to cleanse and purify ourselves from the soul-clogging we have engaged in since last High Holy Days.
So take some time to reflect. To think about the year that has been. Think about who you are and who you want to be as 5771 unfolds. What needs changing? Who have you hurt? Who hurt you? Where do you need to heal relationships? How will you grow? What errors in judgment clouded your vision? What needs correcting in you?
The month of Elul allows us to stand with God. Tradition teaches us that it is easier to approach the Holy One of blessing during this month than waiting until Yom Kippur. But 40 days from now will be Yom Kippur. And just like the 40 days Moses was on Mt. Sinai and then received the covenant and the 40 years the Children of Israel wandered in the desert and then crossed into the Promised Land, we can prepare ourselves for the promise of forgiveness and repentance and holiness in the New Year.
So each day, strive for one more connection to God, the Jewish people, yourself, those you love and do the work of atonement, repentance, and heshbon hanefesh-soul searching so that you can heal your wounds and ask and seek forgiveness from God and others. Happy soul-searching!