Elul: It’s all in the letters!


It is said (Devarim 30:6) umal HaShem Elokecho es livovicho vies livav zarecha liahavah es HaShem Elokecho bichol livovicho uvichol nafshicho limaan chayecho, Hashem, your G-d, will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, to love hashem, your G-d, with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. The Baal HaTurim writes that the first letters of the words es livovicho vies livav spell out the word Elul. This alludes to the idea that in the month of Elul we are close to HaShem and He assists us in the repentance process. The Baal HaTurim adds an interesting caveat to this acrostic. He writes that based on this acrostic Jews have a custom to arise early from Rosh Chodesh Elul and on to recite Selichos, supplications to HaShem for forgiveness. Furthermore, the Baal HaTurim writes, it is said (Tehillim 27:13) lulei heemanti liros bituv HaShem [bieretz hachaim], had I not trusted that I would see the goodness of HaShem [in the land of life!] The word lulei, when the letters are rearranged, spell the word Elul. This teaches us that from Elul and on, I (Dovid Hamelech) trembled before HaShem.

Throughout Elul we have a custom to recite this psalm beginning with the words LiDovid HaShem ori and contains the verse lulei heemanti… It is striking that the first letters of the words lulei heemanti liros bituv equal in gematria the word Elul (67). Furthermore, the word at the end of the verse, chaim, life (68), also equals in gematria the word Elul. Additionally, previous verses (7-8) in this psalm states shema hashem koli ekra vichaneini vaaneini lecho amar libi bakshu fanai es panecho HaShem avakeish, HaShem, hear my voice when I call, be gracious toward me and answer me. In Your behalf, my heart has said, “Seek My presence.” Your Presence, Hashem,  do I seek. When the first letters of the words vaaneini lecho amar libi are rearranged they spell out the word Elul. These hints are clear proofs that this psalm is appropriate to recite during the month of Elul. HaShem should grant us the ability to see more wonders in His Torah!

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