Complete Jewish Bible Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) 5:9 says: “But the greatest advantage to the country is when the king makes himself a servant to the land.”
A Paradox: Holiness among the common.
Elul is the 12th month of the Jewish year, a period of paradox just before the new year and high holy days begin. It is a time of introspection, when Jews examine their hearts and repent for their sins. At the same time, it is when God showers His mercy on them.
In Judaism, there are holy times and there are “profane” (or common) times. The entire month of Elul is considered holy. I once heard it called “a haven in time, a city of refuge from the ravages of material life.” I love that analogy because it reminds me that in the end days, God will make a place of refuge for those who believe in Him.
Psalm 27:5: “For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.”
The name Elul is an acronym.
Elul is pronounced eh-lool. It is spelled (in Hebrew) aleph-lamed-vav-lamed. These letters represent acronyms that convey spiritual aspects of life during this special, unusual period of time. (In 2018 the month of Elul begins at sundown on August 11 and ends at sundown of September 9.)
“Eina L’yadi V’samti Lach” means that the Messiah will have express knowledge of the Torah, and so this is a time for studying Torah for Jews as well. As Christians and Messianic Jews, we know that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Word of God. He proclaimed that He came not to abolish the law (Torah) but to fulfill it.
In John 1:1 we read: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Then we find His words concerning the law in Matthew 5:17 where He says: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
Interestingly, The Talmud says, “divrei torah koltin” (the study of Torah provides refuge).
The next acronym is “Et L’vavcha V’et L’vav” meaning “teshuvah” or repentance. This refers in Elul to turning back to God, repenting of our sins and seeking God’s ways. Believers in Yeshua know that they are given everything necessary to live life in a godly manner according to 2 Peter 1:3, and that they are already forgiven for their sins both past and future. We know that it is God’s lovingkindness, His mercy, that brings us to repentance (Romans 2:4).
Photo by GoodMan_Ekim on Creative Commons
Next comes the acronym “Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li.” This comes from the Song of Songs 6:3 and translates to “I’m my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.” It speaks of love and commands “avodah” (prayer) during this holy month as well.
The fourth acronym is “Ish L’rei-eihu U’matonat L’ev-yonim,” which means gemillut/chassodim (charity/kindness). God’s people are focused on taking care of the poor and treating everyone with kindness.
Finally, there is one more acronym which I find particularly interesting. First of all, you have to read it backwards to get the acronym right. “L’Hashem Va-yomru Leimor Ashirah” which comes from Exodus 15:1, singing to the Messiah.
But what does all this have to do with the king being in the field?
Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi has a metaphor that helps explain the paradox of Elul being a holy month yet made of workdays (work is commonly forbidden during holy times such as the Sabbath and festivals of God).
Imagine a king in Israel. If you, being a common person, wanted an audience with him, you’d have to travel to Jerusalem from wherever you are. You’d have to pass through all the gates and checkpoints, go through all the ministers and secretaries (all the bureaucracy) before you could be granted an audience. Then you would have to behave in a specific way, use specific language, and follow a specific dress code. That’s the way it is on common days.
But in the month of Elul, the king leaves his palace and stands in the field with the common people. They can approach him freely, even in the midst of their work, and he will listen to them with a smiling face and open arms. Even the highest ranking person in his court does not have this kind of access to the king when he is in his palace. But for this one month, the king is in the field.
As we celebrate this month of holiness in our common workaday world, remember that the reason this is a holy month is because God is with us (Immanuel)!
As Yeshua said, “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).”