As we have mentioned, the month of Elul is a special month. G-d accepts our
repentance more readily in Elul, and our relationship with G-d is closer in
Elul. The B'nai Yisaschar writes that if we take advantage of the opportunity
presented to us in Elul, an improved and closer relationship with Hashem is
guaranteed. The month of Elul is a time when G-d readily accepts our
repentance. During this time, Moshe, after breaking the first set of Luchos
(the tablets upon which the Ten Commandments were engraved) ascended Mt.
Sinai again. During this mission, Moshe went to get a second set of Luchos
and to assure that G-d was happy with the nation of Israel and had
wholeheartedly accepted their forgiveness. Since then, this time has been one
conducive for repentance and forgiveness.
The B'nai Yisaschar notes that from the time Adam sinned by partaking from
the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, every person has
had both good and evil inclinations. Often, the evil overpowers the good, and
causes a person to believe that the evil he or she is doing is actually that
which is good. However, during this time of the year, when G-d wants us to
repent, and therefore rouses us to do so, people are blessed with a sense of
clarity. We are more easily able to discern what is truly right from what is
truly wrong. We are then able to continue with repentance, by admitting our
misdeeds and regretting their performance.
The B'nai Yisaschar quotes a verse in Mishlei, Proverbs (18:22): "Whoever
finds a woman (a wife) finds a good (thing) and obtains favor from Hashem."
This verse, he says, alludes to Elul. The astrological sign for the month of
Elul is Virgo, a woman. The verse can be understood as follows: Whoever finds
Elul, and recognizes its unique character, finds a good, in that he can
discern between good and bad and therefore repent. Since that is the case, he
will obtain favor from Hashem, who will completely accept his repentance and
welcome him with open arms.
As Elul is the month in which we are supposed to prepare ourselves for the
High Holidays, it is not surprising that words of admonishment, censure, and
encouragement are a staple for speeches (and Divrei Torah) during Elul. The
B'nai Yisaschar points out that the Torah gives us stern words of advice at
the beginning of Elul as well. We usually read the Torah portion of Shoftim
in the beginning of the month of Elul. This portion begins "Judges and
officers you shall appoint in all your gates . . . ." The B'nai Yisaschar
interprets this as a message to every individual. Come the beginning of Elul,
each person has to watch over all of his senses, for which G-d opened
orifices, gates, so to speak, so they could be properly used. Each person
has to judge if they are using their sensory organs properly. Each person has
to "punish" themselves for infractions committed with their senses. Fasting,
praying, and undertaking additional good deeds are ways to "punish"
ourselves. Our bodies are literally temples, and we each have to be sure we
do not profane the sanctity of these temples. It is this message, the B'nai
Yisaschar writes, that the Torah is delivering to us as we enter the month of