Month 6 – Elul: Preparation for the Day of Atonement
On the Hebrew calendar, Elul is the sixth month of the year. On the 10th day of last month – the month of Av – we began the Season of Comfort. The season of comfort continues seven weeks, until the first day of next month, which is Tishrei 1, the same day as the Feast of Trumpets. So we have seven weeks in the Season of Comfort, Av 10 to Tishrei 1.
Elul 1 also marks 40 days until the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), which is always on Tishrei 10.
We see this Season of Comfort reflected in our Sabbath readings. Typically the Haftarot includes scriptures relevant to what we read in the Torah. But for these seven weeks they aren’t about our Torah portion, they’re about comfort.
In Hebrew the words “to Comfort” and “to Repent” are the same – the word Nacham. Nacham is used in verses like “comfort ye, comfort ye my people” (Isaiah 40:1) or “the lord has comforted his people” (Isaiah 49:13).
And it also means “to repent” as in changing our mind or regretting something. It is used in that sense in verses like Exodus 13:17:
“When Pharaoh let [the Israelites] go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds (Nacham) and return to Egypt.’”
And after the incident of the golden calf, Exodus 32:14 says:
“Then the Lord relented (Nacham) and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.”
So these seven weeks are full of both comfort and repentance. As we near the end of Elul and the beginning of the Fall Feasts, this season becomes more strongly associated with repentance. This is because the Jewish sages believe that during this month, Moses’ climbed the mountain to retrieve the second set of tablets, after the incident of the golden calf. He was there 40 days until the repentance of the people was complete and the tablets were completed.
This is a time when we can look into our own lives and identify our own idols and areas where we need to repent. Now, I know we don’t store up our sins and confess them or repent once a year on the Day of Atonement. We try to keep a clean slate as things come up, or as we become aware of sin in our lives. This season is about going deeper and examining areas where sin may be hiding.
In a previous post I share some of my personal findings about where idolatry can hide in our lives, and how we can repent and turn back to Yehovah.
Preparing for Yeshua’s Return
As we know, the Fall Feasts point to Yeshua’s second return. This period of Elul is about preparing our hearts, minds, and spirits for the coming Fall Feasts and eventually Yeshua’s coming. I encourage you to use these 40 days to take an honest look at yourself.
This handout asks some challenging questions that will help you identify where your idols might hide, so you can start realigning your heart with Yehovah’s in those areas. I find it helpful to go through this thought process once a year during this time.