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Taking Stock
During Elul, the final month of the Jewish calendar, each of us performs a private reckoning, reviewing the deeds of the past year. G-d certainly knows the truth about our progress during the past year even without our accounting. However, this cheshbon hanefesh, as it is called, is actually for our own benefit. This periodic accounting enables us to better fulfill our mission in this world, to carry out the will of G-d and prepare the world for Redemption.

When making an honest evaluation of our progress, we have a tendency to be hard on ourselves. G-d, however, does not leave us to contend with it alone. Elul is also known as a "month of mercy," in which G-d showers us with spiritual support to enable us to get through the process.

When the king is in his palace, the most an ordinary citizen can expect is a long wait before, perhaps, being admitted to see the king. During Elul, metaphorically speaking, the "King is in the field." G-d Himself comes out of His palace and goes out to the fields, where anyone who wishes to see the King and present a petition is welcome to do so. During Elul, G-d calls to all of us: "Come, return, do complete teshuvah, improve yourselves... And I will offer full support from Heaven." Who could pass up such an opportunity?

This view of the month of Elul leads to the highest possible form of teshuvah: return from love. One who does teshuvah from love recognizes the great love that G-d displays towards him, and turns to G-d to show Him, through good resolutions and actual deed, that the love is reciprocal.

*

Of the millions of end-of-year accountings and new year's resolutions that are made, no two are exactly alike. Each of us knows our own particular situation and where we need to improve. As our sages say, "Just as their faces are not alike, their minds are not alike." We each have a different mission and a different approach to putting it into effect..

However, in the final reckoning, all the new year resolutions have one common theme. How has our conduct during the past year helped or hindered us to reach our goal? And our true and ultimate goal, of course, is the final Redemption. How is it that another full year has passed without Moshiach?

This must be an outcry from the depths of our heart, one that will not allow us to rest for a moment. A cry that will lead us to accept good resolutions, to carry them out and to follow up with more resolutions. Let's use the power of the month of Elul to its fullest potential. But even before the month of Elul begins, may our positive thoughts and resolutions lead immediately to the true and complete Redemption for all of Israel.
 

 


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