Breaking down the Yamim Nora'im

Breaking Down Elul’s Invitation to Love Again

The Rabbis teach that we should read Elul as an acronym with each of its Hebrew letters standing for the first letter of each word in the phrase: Ani ledodi vedodi li (I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine). But what does this line from the love poetry of Shir HaShirim have to do with Elul and preparing for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur?

Some ideas to consider:

  • We are invited to consider this season as an opportunity to reconnect with God, like lovers who have become distanced from each other.
  • Maybe it actually isn’t about love at all. As we practice love, we awaken a sense of vulnerability, and that is the key. It’s only through true vulnerability that we can open ourselves up to honest truths about ourselves and our relationships.
  • As we engage in the process of self-critique, reviewing all the ways that we have fallen short in the past year, we’re invited to do so with love. We should be honest with ourselves, like a loving partner, but we shouldn’t forget to do so with a sense of self-compassion.
  • The Rabbis teach that this is just one of many possible acronyms for “Elul.” Now pick your own. What could E-L-U-L or א–ל–ו–ל stand for in order to give your month deeper personal meaning?