Elul is the name of the last month of the Hebrew Calendar year. The word Elul has no meaning in Hebrew other than being a proper noun, but the root aleph-lamed-lamed in Aramaic means “circle” or “seek out.” As the last month of the year, it makes sense that it might be related to the word “circle,” pointing to the cyclical nature of the year.
There are many traditions associated with the month of Elul. We blow the shofar every morning. We recite S’lichot (forgiveness prayers), especially in the last week. We send cards and letters to our loved ones, asking forgiveness for any offenses we may have committed throughout the year. We spend much of our time focused on preparing for the upcoming High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It is this preparation that might elude to the other Aramaic meaning of Elul. We are seeking, within ourselves, a way to improve ourselves in the coming year.
As we “circle” around to the end of 5772, may we find all that we “seek” within ourselves.