Elul – A Prelude to Rosh Hashana

Question

What is the name of the month before Rosh Hashana in the Hebrew calendar and does this name have any special connection to Rosh Hashana? Thank you and Shana Tova!

 

3 years

Answers

  1.  

    This month is called “Elul”.

    There is a “hint” offered in Jewish tradition about the connection of this name to Rosh Hashana and there is also a more straightforward meaning. Both explanations are beautiful and inspiring.

    First the hint. We find an acronym based on a verse in the Song of Songs (6:3) that alludes to Elul. “Ani L‘dodi V‘dodi Li — I am my Beloved’s (i.e. God’s) and my Beloved is mine.” From here we see a reference to God’s special closeness to us during the month of Elul.

    Now the more straightforward meaning. The word Elul in Aramaic means “to search”. We see this in the “Targum Onkelos” — Aramaic translation by the Sage Onkelos — in the verse speaking about the spies searching the Land of Israel (Num. 13:2). During the month of Elul we search our hearts for wrongdoing and repent in preparation for Rosh Hashana.

    By the way, although “Elul” as the name of the month is of Persian/Babylonian origin, and “elul” means “to search” in Aramaic, we are taught by Kabbala that these languages are “sister languages” and have their source in the holy Hebrew language.

     

     

     

     

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team