“Ani l’dodi v’dodi li (I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine)” – Song of Songs 6:3).
This is the acronym of Elul.
Since Elul is the last month of the year and immediately precedes Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Judgment for all the world’s inhabitants, it was established as a time for teshuvah/repentance. We therefore recite selichos and penitential prayers to [Hashem]. [Book of Our Heritage]
We are to remember this month the emotional bond between the Children of Israel and the Ruler of the Universe. We are in love with each other. Everything that has transpired in our long history can be understood in that light. If tempers flare, if there is estrangement, it is a result of passion – because the relationship is founded on love.
“I recall for you the kindness of your youth, the love of your nuptials, your following Me into the wilderness, into an unsown land” (Jeremiah 2:2).
How we long for each other!
“I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my Beloved. What shall you tell Him? That I am sick with love” (Song of Songs 5:8).
We have spurned Hashem. He created this perfect world for us, this world of supernal beauty. And yet we rejected His love. Since the moment Adam and Eve made their cataclysmic mistake, things have been getting continuously worse.
Our rejection of His love has never had one good consequence. The world is a mess and we know it; the more we try to fix it, the worse the mess becomes. We have become stiff-necked because of refusal to admit our guilt.
In His unlimited love, Hashem introduced a Nation of Priests to repair the damage and bring the world back to its senses. But the world did not appreciate that nation, and that nation itself has lost its way. Weakened by jealousy and division, we have blundered. As a consequence, we are surrounded by those who hate us.
How long are we going to exile ourselves from the One we love?
Our Friend is willing and able to protect us completely. Why don’t we call out to Him? We are too proud. We have made such a mistake by alienating Him that we are embarrassed to call out to Him. We tell ourselves we don’t merit to do teshuvah and that God could never forgive us. When you are in depression, you can’t bring yourself out.
So let’s remind ourselves of some basics.
Several times every day we say, “Blessed are You, our God and the God of our fathers Who recalls the kindnesses of the Patriarchs and brings a Redeemer to their children’s children, for His Name’s sake, with love .”
For His Name’s sake, with love.
Even if we don’t merit salvation, Hashem will at some point cease to tolerate that our relationship is being dragged in the gutter. When His beloved Nation is universally hated, it reflects upon Him. At a certain point the Holy Name of Hashem must itself be redeemed.
When we were redeemed from Egypt – the paradigm for the Final Redemption – we were buried in spiritual mud at the forty-ninth level of impurity. Did we deserve to be taken out? How could we have deserved it at that level?
But our Friend took us out on the basis of our future teshuvah. And we did do teshuvah, struggling during the forty-nine days of Sefira with our own inadequacies in order to elevate ourselves before our chassana at Har Sinai.
Hashem’s love for us is boundless. Soon He will redeem us regardless of our merit.
“When you beget children and grandchildren and will have been long in the Land, you will grow corrupt [and] you will surely perish quickly from the Land . Hashem will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where Hashem will lead you. There you will serve gods, the handiwork of man, of wood and stone, which do not hear and do not eat and do not smell” (Deuteronomy 4:25 ff).
Sounds as if it’s all over, right?
Not so fast!
“From there you will seek Hashem, your God, and you will find Him, if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have overtaken you, at the end of days, you will return unto Hashem your God, and hearken to His voice” (Deuteronomy 4:29-30).