The Sara Litton z"l Monthly Emunah Essay | I am my Beloved's and My Beloved is Mine - Matan - The Sadie Rennert
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The Sara Litton z”l Monthly Emunah Essay | I am my Beloved’s and My Beloved is Mine

Adina Ellis


When we think of Elul, we often jump to thinking about the impending New Year-Rosh Hashana. This brings thoughts of asking forgiveness from God and others, the idea of judgment, sweet round challah, apples and honey. What are we meant to be focusing on in the next couple of weeks of Elul, in this pre- Rosh Hashana time, as the children and grandchildren start school and all the new pens, pencils and notebooks have been purchased and there’s a change in the air as the heat of summer begins to wane?

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has said that Elul is a time for spiritual re-dedication. It is a time for personal growth and strengthening our emunah. In Parshat Shelach (Bamidbar 13:21) the verse says that the meraglim scouted the land. Targum Onkeles translates the word vayaturu, scouted as “ואילולו” an Aramaic word reminiscent of this month of Elul- אלול. Just as the meraglim came to scout out and explore the land, and the month of Elul is similarly one where we are meant to explore ourselves and navigate a process of introspection, mapping out our goals, prior misdeeds, and future aspirations.

Elul has many acronyms, subtle messages meant to inspire us. Rav Eyal Vered’s book “Rimzei Elul,” presents over thirty allusions embedded in the letters of the month. These hints within the acronyms offer us ways to do some timely soul searching. The most well-known acronym is “I am for my beloved and my beloved is for me” –

אֲנִי לְדוֹדִי וְדוֹדִי לִי–

(Song of Songs 6:3) this message of intimacy is initially surprising. There’s a certain symmetry in the words- the two “beloveds” are in the center – facing one another, whereas the “I”’s are on the outside. John Gottman writes that one of the significant measures of intimacy in marriage is the degree that partners turn towards each other. One partner makes a bid for attention, and if their loved one takes note of the opportunity and responds, it reflects a deep and healthy bond in the marriage. Similarly, we have the idea that the cherubim facing one another over the holy ark (Shemot 25:20) reflects the intimate bond between the people of Israel and Hakadosh Baruch Hu. I am for my beloved and my beloved is for me. How often do I respond to my partner’s bid for attention? How much do I trust that my Beloved is waiting and listening? How attentive am I to the messages that God is sending me every day?

In Psalm 27 which we read in the month of Elul, it says (verses 7-8): Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; have mercy on me, and answer me. My heart calls out to You- “seek My face!” Dear God, I seek Your face. These verses reflect our inner voice, our hearts urging us to seek out God. Although out of order, 4 words from these verses form an acronym for Elul as well (Rav Vered) –

וַעֲנֵנִי לְךָ אָמַר לִבִּי –

“And answer me,” my heart calls out to You. Deep within, we have the answers. Amidst our busy lives, to-do lists and endless whatsapp messages, there is a still small voice reminding us to talk to God, waiting for us to take note. When’s the last time that I turned to Hashem to express what is on my mind or what is weighing on my heart?

Right now, in Elul is the perfect time to take pen to paper, perhaps snagged from the brand-new school-year supplies, and to pause and ponder: How can I deepen my sense that God is my Beloved, listening to me and waiting for me? How can I deepen my emunah in Him, talk to Him, cry out to Him? When’s the last time I paused and listened to my inner voice cajoling me towards a more meaningful, spiritual dimension? As we prepare to dip our apples in honey and to wish each other a sweet new year, let’s recognize the sweetness within our I-Thou relationships, for I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.

Adina Ellis

Adina Ellis

is a graduate of the Matan Bellows Eshkolot Educators Institute. She has been teaching Tanakh and machshava over the last two decades, initially on college campuses and in Hebrew Schools in the New Jersey area. Since making aliyah in 2005, she has given weekly shiurim in Hebrew and English to women in her community. Adina has taught in the ALIT program and Rosh Chodesh seminars run by the OU Women's Initiative as well as in the mother-daughter "learn and art" program of OU Israel. She is known for her unique ability to facilitate in-depth textual learning along with engaging and relevant discussions. Adina lives with her husband and children in Yad Binyamin.