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Two types of Love:
Thoughts about Elul

By Avi Lazerson

The month Elul is the month that precedes Rosh Hashanah. It is the last month of the Jewish year. Since Rosh Hashanah is the time of judgment of all mankind, Elul is the period of inner contemplation on the relationship between man and G-d.

Our sages have told us that Elul is the acronym for "ani l'dodi v'dodi le" which means that "I am to my beloved, and my beloved is to me" a passage from the "Song of Songs" by King Solomon.

We may ask at this point, if Elul is the time of inner reflection about our relationship to G-d, what has romance from the "Song of Songs" have to do here? Is not reflection and contemplation serious, whereas romance and love are on the less serious side?

The truth is that there are really two types of love. The first type of love is that of young people who meet and "fall in love" with great passion that sweeps them from logic and rationality. The second type of love is that of a mature couple who after raising their family and marrying off their children turn to one another to rekindle their original bliss.

Passover is really the first type of love. It is the youthful exuberance expressed in G-d's taking us out from Egypt. Like young lovers, we knew not of our future, we solely trusted G-d's judgment and our love. We dashed out of the reality of Egypt to follow G-d into the burning desert like passionate lovers are apt to do.

Elul is the second type of love. It has weathered the storms that come into life and is now ready for the mature expression of love. The mature couple now after emptying their house of their children now turn to each other in expectation, "How did we do?"

Elul is that type of love.

We turn to G-d after Passover, the time of passionate love, and after Shavuot, the receiving of the Torah and the fulfillment of the commandments and we say, "How did we do?"

Like a mature couple now must face life together alone, the arguments of the past must be healed, the disagreements must be smoothed over in order that love can again blossom.

Elul is that period of time for our readjustment to G-d. We must look into our behavior. In what manner is there the possibility for improvement? What can we do to bring our relationship closer?

"Ani l'dodi v'dodi le" I am to my beloved. He is my beloved; it is not a new romance but the rekindling of an old love. "V'dodi le" and my beloved is to me. When I rekindle that romance to my beloved, then my beloved will be aroused and turn his love to me.

This is the message of Elul. A time to rekindle "old" romances and bring our love of G-d to a deeper level!

Avi Lazerson is a frequent contributor to the Jewish Magazine,

Gedanken zum Monat Elul 16-09-2005

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