Sign In Forgot Password

Elul: The King is in the Field

08/23/2022 12:30:58 PM


Rabbi Moshe Rudin


The image of the High Holidays is that G-d's Presence is more revealed than at any other time.  The theology: is G-d immanent (close) or transcendent (distant), can an omnipresent G-d be "more present" at one time or place than any other etc. doesn't really come up.  Why should it?  We are not required by the Torah to make the world intelligible.  In fact, the language of discussing G-d always begins and ends with the understanding that anything we say or imagine or think about the ultimate reality is only "kivaychol"- the limited and incomplete conception of a inconceivable truth.

So, the King is in the field.  This month of Elul, this season of Rosh Hashana, can set the scene for a great year.  The sense that we matter and our actions matter, that we are, literally, in the presence of the Divine, isn't meant to evoke anxiety but joy, hope and mindfulness. 

The Day of Rosh HaShana, while celebrated as a day of judgment, is really like a job performance review. We strive to confront mistakes and misdeeds, missed opportunities and times when we gave way to anger and despondency or when we allowed ourselves to be trapped in the dungeon of resentment.  We are urged to take a "G-d's eye view" where we look for patterns and triggers in our actions and try to understand ourselves better.  At Yom Kippur, we present our findings and then, through a day of intense prayer and meditation go through a spiritual detox. 

Finally, at Sukkot, we emerge outside, cleansed, renewed, filled with gratitude.  Shemini Atzeret is the After Party where we have one last intimate moment- the image is the King taking leave of his beloved daughter- and then begin to work to achieve the dreams and goals that we have set during the holidays.  

Does it work?  My finding is that the more we invest in each Mitzvah of the season at that moment, the more meaning and takeaway we obtain.  Living a Jewish life is one moment, one opportunity, one spark at a time.  If we aim to maximize those moments, the High Holidays become truly that: holy, elevated moments.  The King is in the field- come to see you, beloved daughter/son.  This is a joyful season- Happy Elul! 





Wed, April 17 2024 9 Nisan 5784