Elul & The High Holidays | Aleph Beta

Preparing For The High Holidays

Upcoming dates: September 6 to September 8, 2021

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Elul 2021

Preparing For Elul

Elul begins on August 7th, 2021, and ends September 6th, 2021. The Hebrew month of Elul is a time of repentance in preparation for the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah (Tishrei 1–2) and Yom Kippur (Tishrei 10).

According to the Talmud, the word “Elul” is an acronym for Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li – a phrase from the Song of Songs which translates to “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine,” where beloved allegorically refers to God.

As such, it is a time to reshape our lives and return to God. Elul is a month of deep introspection, where we ask for forgiveness so we can come into the New Year – Rosh Hashanah – with a clean slate.

Elul Traditions

  • Shofar blowing every morning (except for Sabbath) from Rosh Chodesh Elul until the day before Rosh Hashanah. The shofar blasts are meant to inspire us to begin our soul searching and repentance in preparation for the High Holy Days.
  • Many recite Psalm 27 every day from Rosh Chodesh Elul through Sukkot.
  • Special penitential prayers called Selichot are added to prayer services before Rosh HaShanah, on either the first Saturday night beforehand or the Saturday night prior to that, depending on what day of week Rosh Hashanah falls out.

What Are The High Holidays?

The High Holidays refer to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. They are the first two holidays in the Jewish calendar cycle, and mark the beginning and end of the 10 Days of Repentance.

The 10 Days Of Repentance

Rosh Hashanah is the day we crown God as King of the universe. On that day, our fate for the upcoming year is “written” in a Divine book of judgments. That fate is then held in balance for 10 days wherein everyone has the chance to repent and alter their verdict until it is “sealed” on Yom Kippur.

This period is known as the 10 Days of Repentance and they occur in the first 10 days of Tishrei. It is a time of intense repentance, prayer, and charity – the three things said to remove the evil decree.