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 Elul.