Torah Thinkers Forum

It's Elul - Are You Ready?


Every year I have the same problem.

July and August hot summer days bleed into hot September days, and although the month of Elul starts, I am not ready. I hear the shofar blast every morning after davening, but it's just as if an alarm clock goes off that causes to me to stir for a moment, and right afterwards I hit the snooze button and go right back to my regular daily routine.

In olden days, our ancestors trembled when Elul arrived, because they could feel it in their bones that the Day of Judgement was right around the corner. But I always need something else to wake me up, or I will arrive at the fateful day and realize that I am ill prepared to face my Maker. Some years I am fortunate to listen to a lecture that resonates within me, or I can absorb by osmosis the necessary feeling from others who are already tuned in.  

A few days ago I was driving to yeshiva and Radio Yerushalayim, the main station in Jerusalem, that usually plays a mix of contemporary Israeli and American rock, pop, and rap, played a song that really penetrated my soul. I didn't catch the name of the song or singer, and afterwards started to despair that I would be able to find out what it was, or hear it again.

Today, I heard it again, and made a note of the singer's name, עמרם ביטון (Amram Biton), and the song's name, יודע עמוק בפנים (Knows Deep Inside). I then found it on Youtube and played it about 10 times in a row on my cell phone on the way home, and on my desktop at home. In fact, I'm still playing it as I write this, as it really is putting me into the spirit of Elul.

The song in pretty simple (as is the Hebrew it's sung in). It speaks to the fact that there is a Master to the World, and we all know it deep inside (even if that fact is not at the top of our consciousness all the time).  And He knows all about us, all our thoughts, actions, and deepest desires.  It is played in a cheerful tune, so it is not meant to scare the listener, but to make the listener feel that there is Someone up there who cares about each one of us. And it also makes me think that I work for that Boss, and He gave me a task to accomplish this year, and I need to think about whether I have been a responsible person in completing the task I have been given.

A few years ago I heard a lecture from Rabbi Yissochar Frand on this topic. He said that when we approach Rosh Hashanna, we shouldn't make up our minds to correct in the coming year all of our failures of the past year. Because inevitably, next year Rosh Hashanna will roll around and we will realize that we are back at the same point we were last year (as Yogi Berra once said, "Deja Vu all over again" - my thoughts, not Rabbi Frand's :-) ). So if we keep repeating the same scenario, it will just lead us to throw up our hands at the hope of ever doing better.

Instead, Rabbi Frand said that we should all focus on one thing that we need to work on in the coming year. Each of us needs to do some introspection, and think of what that one thing needs to be. But it should be something small enough that it is doable. And if we really work on that one item during the year and accomplish making ourselves a little better, then we will be able to build on that accomplishment in the years to come.

Whatever it takes, we each need to wake up and realize that Elul is here, and Rosh Hashanna is fast approaching.

I wish you all have a כתיבה וחתימה טובה, a New Year filled with all the blessings that Hashem can bestow upon you.

And if you are interested in that song, I'm providing the link to it below. I hope it moves you like it did me.




COM_EASYBLOG_GUEST Sunday, 16 June 2019
Last updated on: 06/16/2019
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