Right now, we are in the month of Elul, the month before the new year of Rosh Hashanah. The 28 days of the month provide a chance for a sort of ‘spiritual calisthenics,’ as we prepare for the 10 holy days that include Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Our rabbis teach us that we are supposed to do teshuvah the day before we die. Of course, we don’t know when that day is, and so we challenge ourselves to perform acts of teshuvah every day. But as we know, this is easier said than done.
And so, we have this month as an extra push of motivation.
Many of you are probably familiar with the famous line from Song of Songs, Ani l’dodi v’dodi li:I am for my beloved, and my beloved is for me. The first letter of these four words spell out this month of Elul (alef, lamed, vav, lamed.)
This teaches that teshuvah is all about our relationships - relationships we have to each other, to God and to ourselves. If indeed I am for others, and others are for me, this month provides a time to think about how our behavior(s) affect others. And change in the process.