Weekly Insights From Ellyn Hutt

Hello from Mitzpe Yericho,

One of the many advantages of living in a part of the Land of Israel that is so open to the hills and sky is that every evening we can see the moon quite easily. Being in the month of Elul, most people are watching the changes in the moon more closely as each phase shows us clearly that Rosh Hashanah will soon be here. The month leading up to Rosh Hashana, Elul, is considered very auspicious for coming closer to Hashem and enhancing our relationship with the Divine. 

I heard a beautiful insight last week from Rebbetzin Zemira Ozarowski that reveals one of the reasons that during the month of Elul, we focus on what the letters that spell Elul (Alef, Lamed, Vav, Lamed) stand for. One of the most well-known Elul acronyms is “Ani L’Dodi V’Dodi Li” (I am to my Beloved and my Beloved is to me – from Song of Songs). This phrase, of course, is talking about a love relationship — the relationship between us and the Infinite Creator of the Universe — and is a fitting quote to be associated with the month of Elul and coming close to G-d. There are other quotes as well that are connected to the word Elul. However, the bigger question is, why is anyone even looking for verses or phrases that are acronyms of Elul? We don’t do that with any other month of the year. No one is making a list of places where we see hints about the month of Nisan (the month of Pesach and the Exodus from Egypt) or even Sivan (when we stood at Mount Sinai and received the Torah). What’s so special about Elul that makes us want to look everywhere for references to the month?

So let’s think about close relationships. When we want to feel close to someone (and when we do feel close to someone), we like to have signs and symbols of them around us — the person’s picture, something they gave us, a song that reminds us of them, even a smell that takes us to a time and place where we were together. We want to see them and feel them in our presence. So, too, it is with Hashem. We’re looking for and want to see that there are hints all around us that Hashem is close. This doesn’t mean that we need to spend time looking for acronyms for Elul as we’re reading something online. But it does mean that we have an excellent opportunity to be aware of small signs that G-d is in our life and to feel the warmth of that closeness. It can be in something that would ordinarily feel very mundane and escape our attention. Something happens, though, when you start looking for these little hints — you start seeing them everywhere and start feeling grateful and happy and loved. 

One of my moments was during this past week. We were in a small mall not far from us getting some photos printed. It was going to take about 15 minutes, so I said to my husband, Steve, “Let’s just go into this housewares store and see if they happen to have a duvet cover” (for a double bed in the right shade of blue that we had been looking for.) I was sure they weren’t going to have anything, especially since they have a very small bedding section…except that they did. Exactly one duvet cover for a double bed in sky blue on sale for 50% off. I felt like Hashem said, “Okay, I know you’ve been looking for this and you don’t want to buy online because the colors are always off, so I arranged for there to be exactly one duvet cover in the size you need left for you so that you could find it in the 15 minutes you had available — and two matching pillowcases.” We were so surprised and excited. Not only do we now have the duvet cover, which truly matches the color of the sky over the Dead Sea, but I also have a constant reminder to be grateful for all the many small (and large) ways that the Creator is gifting us and is close to us every day and in every way. 

I hope you’ll take the opportunity to look for and feel the Almighty’s closeness in your life during the remaining weeks of Elul and throughout the year.