The final month of the Hebrew calendar year is the month of Elul. It is a month imbued with meaning as our community embarks on a 40 day journey from the first of Elul to Yom Kippur. This 40 day process echoes other important events in our lives and our heritage which span of 40 days, 40 weeks and 40 years.
- 40 days of the flood in the story of Noah;
- 40 days of waiting for the Torah at Sinai
- 40 years of wandering in the wilderness
- 40 weeks of pregnancy
- 40 days of preparation from Elul to Yom Kippur
In each of these circumstances, the number 40 plays a major role in the human transition from chaos to renewal. In the story of Noah, the world is born again after 40 days of flooding. In the story of Moses and the receiving of Torah, 40 days of waiting results in the Laws that would forever shape the Jewish experience. In the case of 40 years of wandering, our people find renewal as they enter the Promised Land. In the case of childbirth, 40 weeks of gestation results in the promise of new hopes and dreams, as renewal is realized with every new life.
So too it is regarding this sacred 40-day journey from Elul to Yom Kippur. These 40 days present us a spiritual period of gestation and inner wandering. During these 40 days we are supposed to consider how we might create closure to issues which have plagued us and set out a path for reconciliation and renewal.
During this sacred month, may we all be blessed with the insight to understand the impact of our actions and the strength to right any wrongs we may have committed, so that at the end of these 40 days we may find a sense of renewal for the year ahead.