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The Feminine Side of the Month of Elul

Published on Thursday September 17th, 2020

The most dreaded and simultaneously most anticipated moment of the year is here. The month of Elul is knocking on our doors, imploring us to welcome it with open arms. It is a call to shake us up from our lethargy and slumber and entice us to do teshuva (repentance).

Let's discuss the intensity and importance of this month, and fully understand its meaning, as well as highlight the feminine aspects that characterize Elul.

First, let's explain the role of this critical period in our calendar. The month of Elul is an auspicious time when it is said that "the King is in the field". God has come out of His palace to greet every one of us. From the simplest peasant to the most noble dignitary, all are welcome to consult Him. Hashem is accessible and attentive to all our supplications and his doors are open in unprecedented ways, on a much wider scale than at any other time of the year. Indeed, Rav Shimshon Pinkus claims that the month of Elul alone has the equivalent spiritual power of all the other months of the year! In addition, the Zohar Hakadosh reveals that Hashem wraps himself in His Tallit and that He Himself prays for us during the month of Elul. Prayer and closeness to Hashem are therefore the central focus of this special month. What an extraordinary opportunity to challenge ourselves, to thoroughly self-search the most inner recesses of our mind, heart and actions and resolve to amend the weak points of our Avodat Hashem!

Likewise, according to the Torah, the Mazal of Elul astrological sign is the virgin (Virgo). Rav David Touitou asserts that, just as a virgin is pure and has never known a man, this period of the year is favorable to wipe out all our sins. It is an auspicious time to be totally forgiven so we may become pristine and white like a young virgin and start the new year with a clean slate, so we can serve Hashem genuinely, flawlessly and with fervent devotion. The virgin status is usually associated with the woman, which imbues this month with feminine characteristics.

Another feminine characteristic of the month of Elul relies on intensified prayer and self-improvement. Of course, prayer is not the exclusive domain of women. However, women have quintessentially embraced the power of prayer, claiming it as their own prerogative and solace. Women's higher spiritual disposition is much more natural and intimate than men's, who must generally toil to improve worship practice. Women's prayers tend to be heartfelt and sincere and can reach so high they can literally pierce the heavens. The work of self-improvement and self-annulment before Hashem manifested in women's prayers and attitudes is also intrinsically associated with the characteristics of the month of Elul. From the outset, women seem to be generally much more humble and modest than men. Their nature is more internalized and thus better equipped to achieve sincere Avodat Hashem. In general, although there are exceptions, a woman's ego is much less inflated than a man's ego, perhaps because a woman has the capacity to naturally annul herself for her children. Obviously, the ego represents a great obstacle in our relationship to Hashem, not to mention the ravages it can do to our interpersonal relationships. All these elements associated with the month of Elul have a predominantly feminine character, and are conducive to Teshuva, spiritual growth and boundless fulfillment.

May we absorb the feminine essence of the month of Elul and integrate it into our hearts and minds! And may we fully take advantage of the opportunity that Hashem offers us so graciously to amend our ways and start over. May we all be inscribed in the book of life, Amen!

Liora CHARTOUNI - © Torah-Box Account

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