Photo Credit: Jewish Press


My father would describe how he would never forget his childhood memory, remembering that when the chazzan would announce “Rosh Chodesh Elul” there was a cry heard throughout the shul. You felt the pachad, the awe in the atmosphere.


Elul is here.

These days are given to us as ‘ais ratzon,’ a time of love and desire between us and Hashem. The Shabbos of Rosh Chodesh Elul, we read in Parshas Re’ah: “Banim Atem LaHashem Elokeichem” – “You are the children of Hashem, your G-d.”

This is a message of everlasting love between a parent and child. No matter what you’ve done, no matter where you’ve been, you must remember always that you are beloved to Hashem. You are the child who pounds on the door at 3 a.m. after being distant and far. Now you want to come home. You cry out, “Abba, it’s me! Open up!” Elul is the moment that our Abba opens the door, embraces us, and makes us understand that we are loved. All hurts and mistakes are wiped away. The stains on the soiled soul vanish.

We sometimes question the power of teshuva and our ability to begin anew.

There is one ingredient that we need to hold onto. The belief that we are unconditionally loved by HaKadosh Baruch Hu. Sometimes we doubt ourselves. We wonder if we truly have the ability to pierce the heavens and storm the gates of shamayim. A young woman who has been in the shidduch parsha for many years said to me through her tears “I think Hashem forgot about me.” There is no such thing. Banim Atem LaHashem Elokeichem. Is it possible for a parent to forget a child? Never.

We may not always understand our lives, but we must always know deep within our hearts that Hashem is waiting for each and every one of us to come home, that each one of us counts, and that Hashem will never abandon us. The power of our prayers on these days is huge.

I had the privilege of having my grandmother, Mama, visit with me after having my first daughter. Mama had survived Bergen Belsen and endured much suffering. Despite the pain and loss, Mama never lost her joy for life; especially for the beautiful babies she would cradle lovingly in her arms.

As Mama held my little girl, she sang to her the Yiddish lullaby her Mama had once sung to her.

Mama’s eyes glistened as she spoke to me.

“You know, shefelah, there were times in my life I didn’t know if I would see ever the sun shine again. I did not know if I would survive but I knew that Am Yisroel would survive. And here I am holding my great-granddaughter in my arms. Who could ever have imagined? Hashem is so good.”

Some years passed. Mama returned her neshamah to the shamayim above.

My daughter grew up and B”H married. She lived with her husband in Yerushalayim. One day I received a call from my son in law. “Mazel tov Mommy! It’s a girl!”

My very first grandchild. What a wondrous chesed it is to see the next generation.

I took the next flight out and was soon knocking on my children’s door.

My daughter placed the baby in my arms. “Mommy, the baby’s name is Miriam, for Mama.”

My heart was full.

That night, baby Miriam slept in my room. At 5 a.m., as the golden rays of Yerushalyim shone through the window slats, the baby woke up for her bottle. I took her in my arms and sang Mama’s lullaby.

And then, as the morning light grew brighter, I whispered, “Look, Mama. Here I am in Yerushalayim, holding baby Miriam who is carrying your name. From Bergen Belsen to Yerushalayim! Who would have believed? Hashem is so good.”

As we stand before Hashem on these days of Elul, let us remember that we are Hashem’s beloved children. Hashem loves us and is waiting for us to come home.

Banim Atem – you are all my precious children.


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Slovie Jungreis Wolff is a noted teacher, author, relationships and lecturer. She is the leader of Hineni Couples and the author of “Raising A Child With Soul.” She gives weekly classes and has lectured throughout the U.S., Canada, and South Africa. She can be reached at [email protected].