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What is special about the month of Elul?

by Rabbi Yossi Marcus

On the first day of Elul, Moses went back up on Sinai for another 40-day stint to receive the second set of tablets.1 The first tablets were shattered by Moses when he came down and saw the Jews worshipping a golden calf.2 While on High for the second time, Moses secured G-d’s forgiveness for the Jews’ short foray into idolatry. When he came back down forty days later, on Yom Kippur, he presented the second pair of tablets and informed the Jews of the good news that they were clear.3

So these forty days, from the first day of Elul until Yom Kippur, are forever considered days of Divine goodwill, a good time to fix up the things we failed at during the past year.4

During the month of Elul, G-d is more accessible, so to speak. During the rest of the year He is like a king sitting in his palace, receiving guests by appointment only. Even if you have an appointment, you have to get past the guards at the front gate and at each security checkpoint. The king is at the end of a long succession of rooms and chambers and antechambers.

Not so during Elul. Then the King is “out in the field.” He’s in a good mood and anyone can come and talk to him. The protocol of the palace is discarded.5

Elul is the time when we are given a leg up, a Divine boost, in our spiritual careers.

See also "Elul: A time to reinvigorate our spiritual selves".


  • 1. See Exodus 34:1,27-29 and Rashi there. See also Rashi on Deuteronomy 9:18.
  • 2. Exodus 32:19
  • 3. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 128:1
  • 4. ibid
  • 5. Likutei Torah, Parshat Re'eh, p. 32a, Ani L'Dodi

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