What is the quality of Elul?
We know that preparation for the 10 days of awe is a part of it, but besides for that, what is the month of Elul itself?
Elul in Sefer Yetzirah
It says in Sefer Yetzirah that the month of Elul has
- The letter Yud,
- it is about the actions of a person using the left side,
- and the zodiac sign of Betula “Virgo”.
We know that the left side is Gevura. Our Sages say: “Ayzehu Gibor? Hakovesh et Yitzro” “Who is mighty? One who controls his lusts”. In this month, we have an opportunity to come closer to Hashem by controlling our actions (which btw is much easier than controlling the speech and thoughts).
Elul has the power that we can make ourselves pure and untainted, like the zodiac sign. This means that we can bring ourselves to a place of purity it can be as if we never tasted the things of this world.
We are accustomed to thinking of ourselves that we know everything and are worldly. This means that we tasted this physical world. Because of this, subsequently, we desire and lust for this world.
The power of this month is to bring yourself to the place of before. Before you tased this world, similar to the concept of Adam HaRishon before the Chet (Adam and Eve before the sin).
We can bring ourselves to the feeling of “All I want is Hashem nothing else. Nothing in the world interests me but Hashem.”
This is the unique power in this month.
Elul as Chodesh HaRachamim, the Month of Mercy
As it is known, Elul is called Chodesh HaRachamim, the Month of Mercy.
Many people do not know why it is called this. The Arizal explains that in Elul we have the beginning of the revelation of the 13 Attributes of Mercy.
If you look in the Zohar in the Idra Zuta, (some say that the Idra Zuta is the highest revelations of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai which were revealed before his passing) we see that the time of the revelation of the 13 Attributes of Mercy is during the Asseret Yimay Teshuva (the 10 days of Repentance from Rosh Hashana until Yom Kippur). With this, we can understand why everyone says that the month of Elul is a month of preparation for the 10 days of teshuva, because Elul is the beginning of the revelation of the 13 Attributes of Mercy.
So what is there for you?
Selichot, the Shofar, and LeDavid
If you are Sefardi, you are about to begin saying Selichot. (The minhag of the Arizal was to say the Selichot the whole month of Elul along with the congregation, word for word.) Within the Selichot there are 12 parts that have different orders of Alef Bet. In the Siddur Harashash, it is brought down that these 12 paragraphs correspond to all 12 partzufim (spiritual identities that move the abundance of each world up and down, elevating the shefa and bringing down new shefa).
When you say the selichot, you can have in mind to ask for the mercy of Hashem for the full structure of the partzufim of the spiritual worlds that they will bring down and circulate spiritual abundance.
If you are Ashkenazi, you can still have this same kavvana when you hear the blowing of the shofar after Shacharis.
The paragraph of Tehillim “LeDavid” that we say from the beginning of Elul has the name of Hashem (YK”VK) 13 times. When you say this paragraph meditate on the 13 Attributes of Mercy.