DAYS: A Spiritual Guide to the High Holidays
(Each of the 60 Days comes with a calendar,
inspirational quote, facts and historical events, laws and
customs, a relevant insight and a daily exercise)
2nd Day of Rosh Chodesh Elul
BREAKING DAMAGING PATTERNS
Moses Elul journey actually begins
seven generations earlier, with Abrahams journey.
In the Book of Genesis (12:1), G-d speaks to
Abraham and says: Go from your land, your birthplace,
the home of your parents, to the land that I will show you.
This is very strange because when you tell someone
to travel, you specify the destination in detail, but
you dont describe over and over again the point of departure.
After all, the person knows where he/she is leaving from.
But here G-d tells Abraham to leave his land,
his birthplace, and the home of his parentsthree descriptions
of his present locationand then, when it comes to the
destination, He only tells him to go to a land,
without naming it or even hinting at where it is.
Chassidic thought, which gives voice to the
inner dimension of the Torah, explains that in truth this
verse is really a commandment issued by G-d to each of us:
Go on a journey of self-discovery. Leave behind anything
that might hold you back. And then I will show you the landscape
of your Divine soul the true you.
If you want to discover your higher self, this
is the secret.
Many people get inspired and motivated to go
on such a journey; they actually pack their bagsliterally
or metaphoricallyand set out on their way. But after
a while, they end up coming right back where they started,
repeating the same old patterns.
Good intentions are pure and real. When you
decide to leave, you really want to get someplace. But you
have so many things weighing you down, so many golden
idols. So the key to meaningful change is not so much
knowing how to get to a new place, its knowing how to
unload the past, so that it shouldnt shape your future
and bring you back to your old patterns.
Ask yourself: In what areas of your life are
you repeating old patterns? In what ways are they damaging
Exercise for the day:
~ Identify and describe one damaging pattern that you
want to break in the coming year.
~ List one thing you must do in order to break that pattern.
Elul 1, Second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul
In the shtetl of Lubavitch, on the Shabbat
preceding the month of Elul, though summer still lingered
and the day was bright and sunny, there was a change in the
air; one already smelled the Elul-scent, a teshuvah-wind
was blowing -- Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak 
2448 (1313 BCE) - Moses ascends Mt. Sinai for the third
time to pray and beseech G-d to forgive the people;
He will remain there for 40 days, descending on Yom Kippur,
when he finally succeeds in his mission. The shofar was sounded
when Moses ascended on Rosh Chodosh Elul and every
day afterwards. This is why we sound the shofar every day
of Elul. We recreate these 40 days beginning from the first day of Rosh
Chodesh Elul. These 40 are hinted to in the 4
yuds (4x10) at the end of the words ani
ldodi vdodi li.
Laws and Customs:
- Every day of Elul the shofar is sounded as a
wake-up call, reminding us that these are special days
of compassion, open to receive all our prayers and teshuvah,
as did Moses on Mt. Sinai. The shofar also elicits awe,
like thunder before the rain, and prepares us for Rosh
- We recite three additional chapters of Psalms each day,
from the 1st of Elul until Yom Kippur (on Yom Kippur the remaining 36 chapters
are recited, thereby completing the entire book of Psalms).
This is a custom instituted by the Baal Shem Tov.
- In the Sephardic tradition, Selichot (special
prayers for forgiveness) are said beginning from the first
day of Elul, through Yom Kippur. In the Ashkenazic
tradition they begin in the week before Rosh Hashana.
(See Elul 21.)
Today is Rosh Hashana of Maaser Beheima,
tithing of the livestock (Rosh Hashana 2a).
From Rosh Chodesh Elul until Yom Kippur
it is customary, when corresponding, to wish one another a
Kesiva veChasima tova, a happy and healthy new year.
It is customary to increase charitable giving
in the days of Elul.
Likkutei Dibburim vol. 1, 115b.
are two opinions as to when Moses actually ascended Sinai
for the third time: 1) Av 30, the 1st day of Rosh Chodosh
Elul, 2) Elul 1, the 2nd day of Rosh Chodosh
(see sources in next note. For a discussion on this, see
Mogen Avraham 581:2. For a lengthy discussion on this, see
the kuntres achron in the addition to Shulchan Aruch HaRav
from Divrei Nechemia, sec. 581. Mateh Efraim, Elef LMateh
581. Devar Yom BYomo Av 28.
Pirkei DRebbe Eliezer ch. 46 (see Radal ad loc). Tur
and Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 581 (see Beit Yosef and Perisha
Shaar Ruach HaKodesh, Yichud 16; Pri Etz Chaim, beginning
of Shaar Rosh Hashana - where Rabbi Chaim Vital writes that
in the year 5331 (1571) his master, the Holy Ari, instructed
him to fast for two days after Rosh Chodesh Elul, and gave
him elaborate guidelines as how to conduct himself during
the month of Elul, when the doors of compassion are open
and we recreate what Moses achieved on Sinai, including
his fasting for all the days he was on the mountain.
Orach Chaim 581. Resishit Chochma shaar haTeshuva ch. 4.
See note 2 in Av 30. Ohr HaTorah Netzavim pp.1280.
In our set calendar (established by Hillel), Elul 1 can
fall either on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday or Friday. This
corresponds to Rosh Hashana (29 days later) which can only
fall on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Shabbat, never on Sunday,
Wednesday or Friday (Lo adu rosh). The average breakdown
of these possibilities: 32% of the time Elul 1 falls on
Wednesday (and Rosh Hashana on Thursday). 29% Friday. 27%
Sunday. 12% Monday.
Biurei haZohar p. 505-6. Oh HaTorah Reah p. 721.
Efraim 581:9. This is alluded to in the verse (Exodus 18:7)
Vishaalu ish lrayayhu lshalom,
acronym Elul (Likkutei MaHarich).