Excerpt from 60 Days: A Spiritual Guide to the High Holidays, by Simon Jacobson.
This first week of Elul is the fourth week in the Seven Weeks of Consolation, which began immediately following the destruction of Tisha B’Av. God comforts
and consoles us while we work on rebuilding our relationship with Him during Elul (as Moses did on Mt. Sinai), thereby showing us that a relationship with
Him is a two-way street.
The Midrash explains the progression of these seven weeks as a dialogue between us and God (which reflects our introspection in the month of Elul):
· Week One: God sends His messengers, the prophets, to console the people after the destruction of the Temple.
· Week Two: The Jewish people ask the messengers, “Why are you coming here? We want God to come.”
· Week Three: The messengers go back to go and tell God: “The nation is not consoled.”
· Week Four (the first week of Elul): God agrees to come and console the people Himself, and begins consoling them.
· Week Five: God’s consolation intensifies.
· Week Six: The consolation reaches a more profound and powerful level.
· Week Seven (the week before Rosh Hashana): The Jewish people tell God, “We rejoice in Your consolation.”
Why doesn’t God Himself console the people at the very beginning? Why does He send messengers and allow three whole weeks to pass by before He acts?
God teaches us here, first of all, to bond with each other and to console each other. One could argue that we’re all mortals in the same situation, and
that we need someone above and beyond us to console us.
But God says, no, one mortal can console another mortal. One weak person can console another. One vulnerable person can console another. It’s a great gift
that one person can give to another.
Ask yourself: Have you developed the sensitivity to console others in time of sorrow in their lives? Do you seek out opportunities to offer consolation
or do you shirk away from such occasions? What has been your experience in being consoled by others?
– Console someone—visit a sick person in a hospital, or call a friend who is feeling down, or send a greeting to a person you know is lonely.
– Resolve to make consolation a regular practice throughout the month of Elul.