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Preparation for Elul and Rosh Hashana – Part II

Updated: Sep 8, 2020

Having in mind what many of our rabbis said that “preparation

for a Mitzvah is a Mitzvah [in itself]”, it’s important we set up our

mindset straight for the coming High Holidays. Hashem, in his

awesome compassion towards us, paves the way every year so we

can “score high” on Rosh Hashana, so let’s get some more chizuk

(strenghtening) for the coming month!

The beautiful captive analogy

The Arizal gives a fascinating chiddush on how a person can

come in touch with his soul, based on the Mitzvah of Yisha Yefat To’ar

(the beautiful [captive] woman). When waging war, a Jewish soldier

was permitted to have relations with a woman of the enemy side.

Let’s not delude ourselves here, the Jewish army of old was

composed of Tzaddikim of the highest calibre. They didn’t just

“desire” women, but rather saw in them a holy spark that needed to

be redeemed through this special Mitzvah involving intercourse. In

fact, they barely saw a female body, and their desire for holiness

compelled them to act solely for the sake of Heaven. The same goes

for Shlomo HaMelech, who had 300 concubines and 700 married

women from around the world. He didn’t “desire women”, but had a

much loftier goal of dominating all the nations and becoming

Mashiach, but that’s a story for another article.

The Torah writes that the woman should be taken to the

soldier’s home, “to weep for her father and her mother for a month”.

The Arizal explains that “going out to war” means beginning the

process of Teshuva when a person fights against his Yetzer HaRah.

Then, when a person finds this “beautiful woman”, it’s actually his

own soul which was trapped in the domain of impurities! The

monthly period of wait corresponds to the month of Elul, where the

woman (the soul) has to shave her hair off (which is abandoning her

false beliefs) and cut her nails (which is like cutting the indulgence in

pleasures). Finally, when the Torah writes that “she will be your

wife”, it actually means that the soul will reveal and guide the

penitent to a higher path.

Doing Teshuva is for our benefit

The above lesson is a powerful reminder of what the month of

Elul is all about. Each of us must turn inside and search deep within

to find what we missed, where our soul has gone to. Doing Teshuva

and redirecting our desire towards Hashem can be incredibly

energizing if we put our effort in it, as the Ba’alei Mussar (masters of

self-discipline) teach us.

Commenting on the verse “and Yosef was the ruler of the

Land”, Rabbi Yeisa in the Zohar (188a) connects it to the verse “and

now my head will be lifted above my enemies around me” from

Psalm 27 which we recite in Elul. He teaches us that when Hashem is

pleased with someone, he lifts him above those that hate him. This

happened to Yosef and David who were hated by their brothers. The

word in bold “now” (ve’ata) can also be read with an aleph instead of

ayin, spelling “and you”.

Rabbi Yehuda who was with Rabbi Yeisa added that “and now”

refers to a really high level, which corresponds to the letter Heh (ה) of

the name -Y-H-V-H-.

The lesson is that when a person can withstand the adversities

and do proper Teshuvah, he can then be lifted up above his enemies,

whether they be spiritual or physical! Let’s also remember that the

Arizal teaches that doing Teshuva entails lifting up the Shechina

(symbolized by the letter ה of the Holy name Y-H-V-H) from the lower

worlds to it’s source. The same happens to a person’s Nefesh, which

is trapped in the domain of impurity begins to receive new divine


The Psalm 27 is thus teaching us the supreme importance of

doing Teshuva. And as we know, we don’t need to do it all alone, but

we can all get some help from the Tzaddikim.

New opportunities for Prayer Trek

The Zohar writes that, were it not for the prayers of Tzaddikim,

the world could not be sustained a single moment. The Talmud

writes that the Tzaddikim, in their lifetime, can effect salvations even

more than during their period of physical existence.

They are constantly praying for us and the Arizal teaches us

that we can also receive their blessings by visiting their Kever. In

Sha’ar Ruach HaKodesh, he writes that the more one rectifies oneself,

the more one can establish a connection with the Tzaddikim. It is also

in the nature of the Tzaddik to be compassionate and bestow

everything they can upon honest and good-hearted people.

For those that can’t travel to them (and even those who can!)

I’m happy to announce that we will be doing a special prayer trek

“marathon” on the month of Elul for the sake of our members! If you

want to form a bond with the Tzaddikim, get special Syata

Di’Shemaya (heavenly help), make sure to join the coming prayer

The month of Elul is an incredible opportunity that needs to be

grabbed with all our strength! We should derive inspiration and help

from the Tzaddikim to make the most out of this truly special time!

This article was written and published in the zechut of all Emuna Builder Partners. May they have complete emuna and continue spreading emuna!

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