By the Grace of G‑d, the third day of Selichos, 5709

The first letters of the words of the verse,1 אני לדודי ודודי לי — “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine,” spell out the name אלול — Elul.2 The [spiritual service] that begins in Elul reflects that of “I am my Beloved’s,” i.e., an “arousal from below,” [an initiative taken by the Jewish people to draw closer to G‑d].

[This phase of Divine service continues] until Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, when [the inner dimension of] G‑dliness is drawn down in a perceptiblemanner. This [revelation from Above] is alluded to by the words ודודי לי — “My Beloved is mine.”

A ray of the inner dimension of G‑d’s will shines within each and every Jew. Nevertheless, innately, [that ray] is in a state of concealment and hiddenness and must be revealed [through man’s Divine service]. There are some whose [conduct causes] this G‑dly potential to be lost [and inaccessible] to them, in a state of exile. Needless to say, this applies to those who blemish their souls through [forbidden] thought, speech, or deed. Nevertheless, it also [applies to those who indulge in] permitted matters that are not necessary for the service of G‑d or in empty, wasteful matters.3 The counsel given [to those who find themselves in such a state is,] “And you shall seek G‑d, your L‑rd, from there, and you will find [Him] when you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”4

To understand this, it is necessary to preface with the concept [of the parallel] to the nesirah in our Divine service explained previously. [As mentioned, this service consists of three motifs: gor’in, u’mosifin vedorshin — taking away, increasing, and interpreting. One must take away, [i.e., restrict the self-expression of] the animal soul (gor’in), increase [the activities of] the G‑dly soul in one’s Divine service (mosifin), and dorshin, seek out5 and eliminate even the subtle evil [within his soul]. In this way, the person becomes “pure of heart,”6 [and in this state,] the heart is able to receive the mind’s understanding. [Afterwards,] “the heart distributes [influence] to all sides,”7 [enabling all the body’s limbs and organs to function in a manner appropriate for them].