Rosh Chodesh Elul Torah Essay - Matan - The Sadie Rennert
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Rosh Chodesh Elul Torah Essay

Lysee Stein

Rosh Chodesh Elul marks the beginning of an important month in the Jewish calendar, leading up to the Yamim Noraim. There are multiple additions to our daily tefillot now that the month of Elul has begun.

Sephardim will begin saying Selichot, the shofar will be blown each day and we will begin to recite Tehillim, perek 27 twice a day.

What makes this perek of Tehillim so fitting for the beginning of the season of teshuva? When we look at the words of the perek, there is no obvious mention of teshuva. So, let’s look at a few of the pesukim and see if we can find the message and its connection to Elul.

The perek begins with the words

Of David. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; from whom shall I be frightened? לְדָוִ֨ד ה אוֹרִ֣י וְ֭יִשְׁעִי מִמִּ֣י אִירָ֑א ה מָעוֹז־חַ֝יַּ֗י מִמִּ֥י אֶפְחָֽד׃

This pasuk focuses on the idea of Hashem’s divine protection and serves as a reminder that during Elul, as we approach Hashem in teshuva, we find comfort and strength in our relationship with Him. This pasuk not only identifies Hashem as our light, but also reminds us that He is our salvation and stronghold. Elul can be a daunting time as we confront our shortcomings and vulnerabilities. However, just as the moon is at its darkest on Rosh Chodesh, we can find comfort in the promise that Hashem’s light can pierce through the darkest moments of our lives, guiding us on the path of teshuva and renewal.

A little farther on, in pasuk 4, David says:

One [thing] I ask of the Lord, that I seek-that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to see the pleasantness of the Lord and to visit His Temple every morning. אַחַ֤ת  שָׁאַ֣לְתִּי מֵֽאֵת ה֮ אוֹתָ֢הּ אֲבַ֫קֵּ֥שׁ שִׁבְתִּ֣י בְּבֵית ה כׇּל־יְמֵ֣י חַיַּ֑י לַחֲז֥וֹת בְּנֹעַם ה וּלְבַקֵּ֥ר בְּהֵֽיכָלֽוֹ׃


Here, David beautifully expresses our devotion and deep longing to dwell in the presence of Hashem. It aligns with the themes of Rosh Chodesh Elul and the approaching High Holy Days, as it highlights the yearning for a closer connection with Hashem. The word “dwell” in this context represents a deep and continuous relationship. It goes beyond simply visiting a physical temple or attending religious services occasionally. Instead, it conveys a desire to reside permanently in the presence of Hashem and to make Him a constant and integral part of our lives. David’s aspiration to live in the house of Hashem “all the days of my life” implies an enduring commitment to maintaining that relationship. As we embark on this spiritual journey of self-reflection during Elul, we are encouraged to seek a lasting bond with Hashem, not just for the High Holy Days, but throughout the remainder of the year and our lives.

In pasuk 8, David implores,

On Your behalf, my heart says, “Seek My presence.” Your presence, O Lord, I will seek. לְךָ֤  אָמַ֣ר לִ֭בִּי בַּקְּשׁ֣וּ פָנָ֑י אֶת־פָּנֶ֖יךָ ה אֲבַקֵּֽש׃

On Rosh Chodesh Elul, we begin on a journey of seeking closeness to Hashem, just as David HaMelech sought His presence. We actively search our hearts and minds for areas in need of improvement, striving to draw nearer to Hashem.

The perek concludes with passuk yud daled –

קוֵּ֗ה אֶל־ה חֲ֭זַק וְיַאֲמֵ֣ץ לִבֶּ֑ךָ וְ֝קַוֵּ֗ה אֶל ה׃ Hope for the Lord, be strong and He will give your heart courage, and hope for the Lord.

David instructs us to be strong and to let our hearts be courageous. This reminds us that throughout the teshuva process, we should not lose faith. We must believe that a connection with Hashem is reachable and that this time period, leading up to and including the Yamim Noraim, presents an opportunity for spiritual growth and forgiveness

Although there are no explicit mentions of teshuva in this perek, we can see many themes that are important for this time of year. By thinking daily about our need to seek out Hashem, finding light in darkness, and holding on to our faith, we can make this month transformative, renewing our commitment to Hashem and fostering a deeper connection to Him.

Wishing everyone a Chodesh Tov and an uplifting month.

Lysee Stein

Lysee Stein

has been teaching Tanakh at Katz Yeshiva High School, in Boca Raton, Florida since 2008. When not in the classroom, Lysee can be found meeting with senior girls as Director of Girls Israel guidance. She is also a faculty advisor for the Al Shlosha Devarim Chesed track, creating opportunities for chesed minded students. Lysee studied for a year and a half at MMY in Israel and then received her BA from Stern College. She recently completed the Matan Bellows Eshkolot Professional Development Fellowship. She lives in Boca Raton, Florida with her husband and three children and is actively involved with the Boca Raton Synagogue as a past Sisterhood president.