The Temple Institute: Temple Talk: Elul 4, 5766/August 28, 2006

In Our Work Clothes

Elul, the month preceding Rosh Hashanah is known to be a time of eyt ratzon - a time of heavenly good will, or grace. But to understand the unique spiritual dimension of Elul, one needs to explore the imagery of "the King is in the field." Not satisfied with passively awaiting His role as Judge on Rosh Hashana, the King has emerged from His chamber and actively seeks out His subjects. He seeks out His subjects not to catch them in their inequity, G-d forbid, but to see in each and every one of us that spark of pure light which binds us to His will. But finding the good within us requires knowing where to look for it. The Baal Hatanya explains, when discussing "the King in the field" that G-d is seeking us in our "work clothes," that is, as we are. The very first step toward preparing ourselves for standing before the Judge on Rosh Hashana is accepting ourselves for who we are and for where we are. Only when we confront our own strengths and weaknesses, our own accomplishments and failures can we begin the process of bettering ourselves. This is what the King is seeking within us when he emerges from the great distance of His heavenly abode and draws near to us in the field of our existence, in this world.

This same emphasis on the pure and simple truth that dwells within us finds expression in the blowing of the shofar. Hearing the blowing of the shofar is the main aspect of the avodah - the Divine service - performed in the Holy Temple on Rosh Hashana. It is the custom, which dates back to the generation of the desert, to blow the shofar each day during the month of Elul. The non-verbal cry of the shofar as it is blown is meant to awaken within us the need to rebind our lives to the will of G-d. Likewise, the shofar is blown in order to signal to G-d that we are here - alive and yearning to draw nearer to Him.

Join Rabbi Chaim Richman on TEMPLE TALK, as he and guest co-host Yishai Fleisher discuss the month of Elul, the Torah reading of Shoftim, and the comprehensive architectural plans being drawn up for the Holy Temple, beginning with the Chamber of Hewn-stone - the seat of the future Great Sanhedrin. Also learn about the new siddur - prayer book - being composed for the growing Bnei Noach international community.

Click to hear:

Part 1
Part 2