Friday, September 10, 2004

Elul: A Lost Opportunity

Rosh HaShanah is next Wednesday Night, but I keep wondering where Elul went. It's not a case of 'Who knows where the times goes?' Actually, it's more in tune with Francois Villon's question, 'Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?' Let me explain.

On many occasions, the Rov zt"l commented that the Torah was not only concerned with the proper technical observance of the holidays (including Shabbat). It demanded preparation to ensure that there would be an appropriate atmosphere to fill the holy day. That's why Erev Shabbat, Erev Hag, and Elul are actually "Halakhot' of preparation. People need to prepare themselves to meet holiness and that's what they are for. One available discussion is found in the Rov's lecture, Concepts of Jewish Education. [Interestingly, there is a continuum between this theme of the Rov's thought and his son, Prof. Haym Soloveitchik's famous article, Rupture and Reconstruction. See also the last two pages of his article 'Three Themes in Sefer Hassidim,' AJS Review, 1(1976).]

So, with the onset of Selikhot tomorrow night, it seems to me important to stress the need to exploit the few days of spiritual preparation that remain from Elul, in order that 'One who prepares on Erev Shabbat, may eat on Shabbat.' Shanah Tovah!

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