Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Elul Effect

I'm a poet at heart. So I'm warning you up front that Elul tends to bring out the poet in me. Quite frankly, I'm still in that "romantic stage" with Elul. I love Elul. Why? Simple put, Elul helped save my life.

I had been slowly dying. We all have things that break us. Leaving my childhood and most-of-my-adult religion broke me. I discovered Torah. And obviously the truth of Torah undid a lot of my previous beliefs. That was a very good thing, to say the least! But it was the reaction of Bible-belt-born-and-bred family and friends that broke me. No matter how tough you think you are, being ostracized by family and life-long friends and being told, "You're going to hell and dragging your children with you," doesn't make for the most pleasant of days.

So, as I said, I found Torah. But in the process, I lost a lot of myself. I was born under the sign of Cancer. Any other crabs out there? We crabs tend to have a hard shell even on our good days. And we love being alone. On bad days? We have to be alone. I pulled away from the world, but mainly, I pulled away from who I was. But low and behold, I was about to be pulled into the vortex of Elul.

Who knew that Elul is the supremo time to "relocate ourselves." A time, "To get back into the playing field." I certainly didn't know that. But I was about to find out. It all started on Rosh Chodesh Elul.

I'd been skirting a few little issues like relationships, G-d, responsibilities, talents, self. So I decide on a "whim" to celebrate a custom I had recently discovered called Rosh Chodesh. Little did I know at the time that the nail-thin light of the new moon was ushering in Elul. Below is what I journaled regarding what happened to me on that Rosh Chodesh.

"Elul. It was a shock of love. After skirting issues and hardening myself to emotions, it actually felt good the way He jerked my arm and pulled me in. Not just in; all the way in. Sit down, it's time to talk kind of in. The heart-to-heart began gently and ended up with my insides on the table. Spilled guts. Not pretty, but necessary to get on to potential. Which is nice to be reminded you have before you are hugged 'til you can barely breath, kissed on the head, and then told, "Either get in the game and play hard or go home."

"I was awed at the moment. Awed of how something so good could happen in the blink of an eye, yet knowing the blink was the zillionth thread being pulled into place in the tapestry of my life. Awed that there are such pristine places for us to return to. Awed of the gift of being conscious at birth."

Yep. That's why I love Elul.

Shortly after this experience I began to hear teachings on Elul. "Ohhh, no wonder that happened to me," I said to myself. It was the perfect time to be reborn, to be awakened, to be shaken out of my slumber. No wonder Rabbi Richman refers to Elul as "the emergency room of life" and as the time of "anti-somnambulism."

So why did I, a very private person, decide to share such a personal experience? Because if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. Imagine, Hashem took the time to meet a non-Jew in the field. Took the time to resuscitate me. Took the time to save me from myself. Took the time to remind me that I have potential and that it's not meant to be wasted anymore. If He would do all of that for me, imagine what can happen to a Jewish heart and soul during Elul.

It is said of the Jewish soul that all it takes is the smallest of sparks to get a flame burning in him or her that can light the entire world. On the one hand, it is so easy for a Jew to be drawn back to Hashem and to be drawn back to who they were really meant to be. On the other hand, since the Jews are meant to be The Light to the world, there is a bit of a cosmic fight trying to prevent that from happening.

It's a big prayer. A bold prayer. But I pray that more than any other time in history more Jews will be drawn back to Hashem and that this will occur without them having to go through hardship and/or tragedy. Elul is the perfect time for this prayer to be answered. The King is in the field so ready to make contact; so ready to reintroduce all of us to who we are. He is waiting for all of us. But especially for the Jews. The King needs His emissaries to come back to Him. Come back to Him for reinforcements, for an armor of truth and love, for a bold reminder of all of your potential. Then go back out to help save the world.

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