On Sunday, August 20, Rabbi Dovid Ashear, well-known author of the Living Emunah series and sought-after speaker, shared a shiur about Elul, hosted by Chazaq at Congregation Anshei Shalom in Jamaica Estates.

Rabbi Ashear began: “We just entered the month of Elul. We’re supposed to improve ourselves and come close to Hashem. It’s a big opportunity for us. Elul is so special. Grab as much as you can before Yom HaDin.”

Everyone has to take time to take stock of where they are holding and how they can improve. “Elul is here now, whether we are ready or not. We can’t let it go!”

During this month, whenever you have a question of what the right thing is to do, remind yourself that it’s Elul and grab every mitzvah that you can. It has to be in your mind.

Rabbi Ashear shared that “in this month, Hashem sends an outpouring of love.”

On Rosh HaShanah, the whole world is judged. However, Hashem only told us about the judgment, so He gave us a month in advance to grow closer to Him.

Rabbi Ashear then shared a story with a lesson. A businessman came to Thailand after a tsunami and bought up lots of land that was selling for very low prices at that time. He seized the moment and soon people started coming back and the land rose in value. We are entering a very holy month. It is true that we can always daven, and Hashem can break decrees at any time, but right now we are entering the palace. “Now is the time!”

He then shared a mashal from Rabbi Sholom Schwadron. A father had an only child whom he loved dearly. The child married someone in a faraway place, and the father sent a letter asking the son to come visit. The son said he’d come one day but he didn’t come. Time passed and the son had children, but he still didn’t come to visit. Finally, the father took a lot of different forms of transportation until he was on a boat headed to visit his son. He expected to see his son at the dock to greet him, but the son wasn’t there. He took a train to the neighborhood of his son and expected his son would be at the station to greet him, but he wasn’t there. He knocked on the door of his son’s house and no one answered. Then the son peeked out of the window and told his father to stay in a hotel across the street, as they were already sleeping and they’d see him in the morning. His father was so upset, he just left. The next morning, the son went to look for his father but he was gone. The son felt terrible that he had missed seeing his father.

All year, Hashem sends us messages that say I love you; I want you close. Things get in the way. Finally, Hashem says I am coming to you on Rosh Chodesh Elul. This is when the boat is docking (from the mashal). Hashem is waiting for us to greet Him. Rosh Hashanah is the train station. Traveling to our houses is the Ten Days of T’shuvah, and knocking on the door is Yom Kippur. “Now, the boat is docked. We have this time. We can be the ones to greet Him. Hashem, we are ready to greet You!”

Rabbi Ashear taught that we should never underestimate the smallest improvement. What you think is small, Hashem says is very big. Nothing is too small!”

Our world is filled with diamonds. Every brachah and Amein that we say is so valuable. We need to pay more attention. The world is filled with so much opportunity. Call someone. Make him or her feel better. We have opportunities to do, and we have to take advantage of them.

It’s easy for a person to change. Don’t underestimate the smallest deed. We all have to think about what we can do now to show Hashem that we recognize the opportunities He is giving us. He wants us closer to Him. Say to yourself, I am going to answer the call.

He noted how everyone is on a different level. You don’t know how one small step in growth has a tremendous ripple effect. Hashem keeps track of every decision you make.

We all have a battle with the yeitzer ha’ra. It’s a spy and it analyzes everything and watches you. It reveals your weaknesses. The yeitzer ha’ra wants you to stumble. He is waiting to kill you in this world and in the next. Hashem says I created something to help you easily defeat the yeitzer ha’ra and that is the Torah. Delve into the Torah. It’s the antidote to the yeitzer ha’ra. Add time to your learning. The deeper you go, the more fighting power you have. Every Jew is obligated to have fixed time for learning Torah. Women share in this by making sure their sons and husbands are learning.

One of the main questions asked at the end of life is if you set aside times for Torah learning. Hashem knows how good Torah learning is for us. The spiritual energy from Torah is incomparable. “Torah gives energy for life. It’s a book of fire.”

He said that “what was yesterday doesn’t have to be tomorrow.”

Don’t underestimate your t’filos. Don’t give up! Especially now we have to stretch ourselves. Use this time to improve and to come closer to Hashem!

By Susie Garber