The month of Elul is the last month of the Jewish year before Rosh HaShanah. It is typically a time for soul-searching, introspection, and stocktaking in preparation for the High Holidays and the start of a new year.
According to one interpretation, the word אלול – Elul is an acronym for אני לדודי ודודי לי – “Ani LeDodi VeDodi Li” which means “I am for my Beloved and my Beloved is for me”. (Songs of Songs 6:3). In addition to these words appearing in many Jewish marriage ceremonies, our sages understood this beloved relationship as referring to the close relationship between God and the Jewish people, particularly during the month of Elul. Chassidic master Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi likens the month of Elul to a time when God, the ‘King’, is in the field, rather than isolated in the palace, and is thus able to be approached and received by all people.
During the month of Elul, we sound the שופר – shofar every day (except for Shabbat) as a call to self-reflection and תשובה – repentance. תשובה also means to turn or to return, with the concept of re-aligning our lives, returning to our best selves, or turning towards the Divine in our lives and the world. The name שופר is connected to the word לשפר – leshaper, which means ‘to improve’, prompting us to ask how might we improve ourselves, our relationships and our world in the year to come.
The daily schedule on Stile has a recording of the Shofar being blown for students and families to hear and to use as an opportunity to inspire reflections and discussions in the lead up to Rosh HaShanah.