On Sunday evening, August 15, Rabbi Uri Lati, well-known teacher and speaker, spoke about Elul. He shared that some people find the word Elul is hard. They are very critical of themselves. “The purpose of Elul is to get closer to the Creator.” Those who are self-critical want to avoid Elul. Before we try to fix ourselves, we have to understand ourselves and to have a healthy sense of self.
He shared that the gift of Elul can bring us true happiness on Rosh HaShanah. “Elul comes from a high level in Shamayim. It’s all chesed from Hashem.” We learn that Hashem’s hand is outstretched to anyone who wants to come back to Him.
He taught that Elul doesn’t appear in the Torah. It’s an Aramaic word. When Hashem sends out the spies, Onkelos translates the word to spy out as a word similar to Elul. So, we learn that Elul is a time to introspect and see how we have transgressed. How can we fix ourselves? Out of the 12 spies, two focused on the positive and ten focused on the negative. In Elul, you can see the negative in yourself or be like the two spies who came back with a positive report. In Chodesh Elul, you are a spy on yourself. Do you want to dwell on the negative or on the positive? “Do something with this beautiful chodesh that Hashem gave you. Hashem gives us one special month. He is with us the whole year, but we focus on Elul because the King is in the forest right now. We have to thank Hashem for this month. “This month makes me so happy!”
If a person wants to give a gift to his friend, he tells him what it is. The Gemara teaches that the gift Hashem gave us is Shabbos, as well as this beautiful month of Elul. Hashem lets us know what this month is, so we can be ready for Rosh HaShanah.
If you tap into that pintele Yid, you can bring yourself back to Hashem. We are a piece of Hashem. We want to come back to Hashem. “There is no such thing for a Jew as a point of no return. Remember that the King is in the field. Hashem is saying: I have all the time for you.”
All we have to do is do t’shuvah and Hashem will forgive all of our sins. “Hashem is your best friend. Talk to Him like you talk to your best friend.”
He concluded that Chodesh Elul has the power to fix all the other 12 months. If we know Hashem is waiting for us, it is clear to us how we can attain true happiness.