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Elul - Recognizing The Relationship

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Elul - Recognizing The Relationship
Based on a shiur by Mrs. Shira Smiles - August 29, 2010

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There is a spirit of love between Hashem and the Jewish people that permeates the months of Elul and Tishrei. Hashem is especially close to us during these days and accepts our teshuva readily. In turn, we increase our Torah learning, add extra selichot prayers, and are careful in our mitzva observance. The Taz notes that one who normally eats pat palter or chalav stam should refrain from doing so during the Ten Days of Repentance. Taking on temporary strictures seems like a charade. Can we fool Hashem? In addition, although this time period abounds with Hashem's love, there is an undercurrent of fear and awe. How should we view these holy days?

Rabbi Tatz writes that time is not passive, but rather the energy source for our actions. Each day of our lives demands a certain sensitivity and growth. Our challenge is to learn how to respond appropriately to each time period. In Elul and Tishrei, we feel Hashem's closeness more acutely. Therefore, our accountability is greater. Our responsibility is to tap into that energy. We are not being two-faced by adopting extra stringencies, we are responding to the matrix of time.

The Imrei Chaim compares the High Holy Days to a woman expecting her first child. There's the apprehension of the upcoming birth and the joy of becoming a mother. Similarly, on Rosh Hashana, there's the trepidation of coming under the scrutiny of the King and the joy of basking in His presence. Our challenge is to tap into Hashem's love and closeness. If we cannot feel emotionally that Hashem is with us, we cannot go through the process of introspection and teshuva. The true depth of teshuva is recognizing Hashem's presence. Talking to Him on a constant basis and bringing Him into our daily life in Elul cultivates a relationship that grows into something bigger on Rosh Hashana. Consequentially, when the chazzan intones "Hamelech," the connotation is far greater.

We need to ask ourselves, What is my purpose on this world? Am I satisfied with the bit of Yiddishkeit I have or do I want a deeper relationship with Hashem? Are my actions meeting up with my goals? What defines me? Elul is about working through these questions. How many of us drive through life not knowing why or where we are actually going. Hashem doesn't demand from us more than we can achieve. We do however need to actualize the potential latent within us. Elul is about recognizing that our core being wants to live correctly. The more we work on ourselves, the more we uncover our essence. And when we allow the intrinsic light within us to shine forth, we begin traversing the road towards true repentance.

About the Author: Mrs. Shira Smiles

Mrs. Shira Smiles is a sought after international lecturer, popular seminary teacher, and experienced curriculum developer. Mrs. Smiles (view personal website) is well known for her special teaching style, which seeks to bring understanding of Torah texts through analysis of tens of relevant sources, while making the lessons learned from every verse relevant to her students' lives in her shiurim.

Mrs. Smiles teaches at Darchei Bina Seminary. In addition, Mrs. Smiles leads a number of women's study group classes in Beit Shemesh, Yerushalayim, and Modiin. Mrs. Smiles also trains Torah teachers in special workshops all over the world.

Mrs. Smiles hasbeen using technological sources to spread Torah for many years. She currently teaches a weekly shiur (Torah class) that is broadcast to many cities around the world via satellite hookup, has a direct teleconference shiur with students in LA, and has over 200 audio shiurim available for download on, a large audio Torah website.

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