|Rosh Chodesh Elul: Kavanot|
We derive the appellation for God’s Name, used in the Rosh Chodesh Mussaf – Additional Prayer – from the combination of letters and vowels of the following verse: “And it will be a Tzedaka for us if we are careful to perform this entire commandment before God, our Lord, as He commanded us.” (Deuteronomy 6:25)
I. A Sixth Sense
This verse is the conclusion and summary of the famous question of the Wise Son on the Seder night. Although most believe that his question is about the Seder and Passover, in truth, he is asking about one of the fundamental Mitzvot/Concepts in the Bible: “You shall do that which is just and good in the eyes of God.” Nachmanides explains that the purpose of all the Mitzvot/Concepts is to train us to be able to naturally respond to life situations in a manner that is good and just in God’s eyes. The Mitzvot/Concepts are tools to help us nurture this sense to be applied in the countless situations we face each day. The verse teaches us that God considers it an act of Tzedaka when we use His Mitzvot/Commandments to develop this extra sense. Elul is the month of deep connection with God. It is the time when we can best take advantage of the Mitzvot/Concepts to develop this extra sense, so necessary for a thriving relationship with God.
II. Looking Forward
The Maggid of Mezeritch compares the word “nishmor” – translated above as “careful” – to Jacob, who, upon hearing Joseph’s dreams, “Guarded the matter”; he waited for it all to come true. The Holy Maggid taught that this is the month of such “Guarding” – It is a month in which we are waiting and looking forward to the promise and potential of Rosh Hashana.
III. Being There First
The Kozhnitzer Maggid compares this to the Children of Israel, who did not wake up early to be at Sinai. God was waiting for them. The Maggid teaches that in the month of Elul, when we begin our preparations for Rosh Hashana, we are saying to God that we will be there first! We cannot wait to meet Him, so to speak, even if it is for judgment.
IV. Performed With Love
The Or HaCHaim HaKadosh teaches that a Mitzvah/Concept performed in fear or desire for reward will never be considered Tzedaka. Only a Mitzvah performed as an expression of love can be considered by God as an act of Tzedaka. This month of Elul is the month of deep love between God and Israel. The Mitzvot we will perform this month will be such powerful expressions of love that God will consider them as Tzedaka.