The primary aspect of Jewish New Year on 1 Tishrei is “The world is judged four times a year . . . . [On] Rosh HaShanah all creation passes before Him [G-D][in judgment] like a flock [before the shepherd] as scripture says ‘He fashions their hearts alike; He considers all their deeds’ (Tehilim 33:15)” (Mishna Rosh HaShanah 1:2) . With one’s life in the balance it would be foolhardy not to prepare beforehand.
Rabbi Yitzchak Ibn Abuchav ZT’L ZY’A in Menorath HaMeor describes Elul as the period an advocate uses to prepare for an upcoming trial. Without any preparation, not even to clean one self up and appear presentable let alone getting one’s act together how could anyone rational person expect a positive outcome in one’s case? The Lubavitcher Rebbe ZTVK’L ZY’A in HaYom Yom (28 Menachem Av) depicts Elul as the time to review and reconcile one’s accounts. The Rebbe compares one’s Torah Study and observance to a person’s business interests. Periodically one must review the previous year’s Torah and Mitzvoth and see where one excels and where one could do better. The Rebbe concludes by encouraging each person strengthen what one is doing right and what needs improvement. As Rabbi Gamliel Rabbinowitz Shlita explained one should sit with the Code of Jewish Law and see the correlation between the law and one’s life, if one finds that one’s behavior deviates from Halacha “FIX”
Elul would be a spiritually potent season all by itself. One would need to be spiritually numb not to feel some inspiration. However, there is a historic event that as a consequence imbues this month with special D-vine favor. Moshe Our Teacher A’H ascended Mt. Sinai the day after the law giving coming back Forty days latter on 17 Tamuz only to find the people engaged in worshipping the golden calf. The next day Moshe went back up Mount Sinai to pray for Bene Yisrael returning 40 days latter on the 29th of Menachem Av. The next day Moshe is called to go up Mt. Sinai a third time to receive the second set of Tablets. This time Moshe returned on the Tenth of Tishrei the Day of Atonement. The second time Moshe went up to Sinai the nation took advantage of the opportunity and spent the time repenting through fasting and in prayer. The third time the people continued to work on themselves individually and nationally as no one but Moshe knew the third session symbolized the acceptance of Bene Yisrael’s repentance as evidenced by Moshe bringing the second set of the Decalogue. The communal resolve to restore the pre-golden calf relationship with G-D has left an imprint on this season for all time. How Bene Yisrael responded transformed Elul from a spiritual time to a season of D-vine favor.(see Mishna Berura introduction Chapter 581, Mateh Ephraim (581 Aluf HaMagain 1-2).
Elul in its historic context teaches a fundamental lesson about providence and faith. Rabbi Shalom Arush Shlita in Garden of Emunah posits as a recurring theme that whatever one experiences is for one’s benefit. Whatever circumstances one finds oneself are the tools one needs to achieve one’s purpose and success.
Certainly,G-D does not want one to sin but then again if G-D really did not one to sin then sin would never happen. Therefore, if one does sin it is as if G-D wanted the person to sin for his or her own good. Actually the better although still somewhat awkward is that if one does sin what is G-D trying to tell that sinner for his or her own good? Maybe one’s failing comes as an alarm to alert one what areas one needs to improve. One may have thought regarding a particular matter one has obtained a high spiritual level a sin reminds one to remain humble and vigilant. If one sins one should not be left devastated, paralyzed or despairing. Rather, if one does sin G-D wants that person to realize G-D Himself cares enough out him or her self to place them in this situation to stimulate one to take a hard long look where one is at spiritually see what is amiss and repair it. Sin then is not the end of the world but an opportunity for renewal and growth.
Bene Yisrael recognized that tolerating the golden calf was profoundly wrong and immediately dedicated themselves to mending the breech. The nation’s collective efforts were so far reaching that their benefits are still felt in the present. Because Bene Yisrael saw past failure to recognize the albeit latent kernels of success making the days of Elul days of anticipation and Awe. Preparing for the coming days of Judgment is no longer just about winning a favorable judgment but has one improved and demonstrated the desire to be better to the extent one has pleased the Judge , A-mighty G-D.