We've recently entered into the month of Elul, the lunar month leading up to the Days of Awe.
The name Elul can be read as an acronym for Ani L'dodi V'dodi Li -- "I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine." (Song of Songs.) This is the month when we're encouraged to relate to God as the divine Beloved; to walk in the fields with God as one might walk with a lover, speaking intimately one-to-one.
Here are a few resources for the lunar month we've just begun:
- Or, for an alternative, here's poet Alicia Ostriker's poetic rendering of psalm 27. Another practice is to sing Achat Sha'alti (One Thing I Ask) every day, which is a setting of part of that psalm.
Your First Step Begins the Journey by Jueli Garfinkle at Moon Over Maui. Jueli provides a lovely printable calendar which one can use to concretize a commitment to making this month a spiritually-meaningful time of year.
- Speaking of lovely and printable, I just bought a copy of this Elul Book, a downloadable pdf of Rae Shagalov's calligraphic Torah teachings about teshuvah and the month of Elul. It's beautiful calligraphy and each page is packed with teachings and insights. You can preview each page of the book on the Holy Sparks website, and you can buy individual prints if you don't want the whole thing.
Relating to God in Elul, On Rosh Hashanah, and On Yom Kippur, a seven-part essay by R' Yitzchak Ginsburgh. Occasionally a bit esoteric, but there's some beautiful material here. The section on Returning to God in Elul is particularly interesting to me.
- Riding With the King, my own post about Elul from 2008, which explores a couple of different Hasidic folktales and interpretations of what this holy month is all about.
May your Elul be meaningful and sweet!