The third haftorah1 of consolation (known as Aniya Soarah) is usually read with the portion of Re’eh. However, when Rosh Chodesh falls on that Shabbat, it is pushed off to the week of Ki Teitzei because in the book of Isaiah, it follows directly after the haftorah of that week (Rani Akarah).

In either case, it is read in conjunction with the month of Elul—either the Shabbat before, when we bless the month of Elul, or a couple of weeks later, during the month of Elul. Therefore, there must be a lesson here for the month of Elul, in preparation for the High Holidays. What is it?

“Elul” is an acronym for the verse in “Song of Songs,” ani ledodi vedodi li (“I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me). First, I am to my beloved, and that causes that my beloved is to me. Through our effort to come closer to G‑d during the month of Elul, He comes closer to us. The difference is that because we are limited, our effort, closeness and love are limited. However, when G‑d bestows his love on us, it is unlimited.

The idea is explained through a parable. Before the king enters the city, the people of the city go out to receive him in the field. At that time, everyone is permitted to go out and meet him. He receives everyone with a beautiful countenance and smiles to all. As he goes to the city, they all follow him. However, when he comes to his palace, no one enters unless granted permission.

During the month of Elul, our King, G‑d, is in the field. He is accessible to all. He receives everyone with a smile. He is responding in kind to our gesture, with acceptance, because His Thirteen Attributes of Mercy are shining bright, and He grants forgiveness from a place of love. All you have to do is to go out into the field, to make an effort to come closer. Your simple act of teshuvah (“repentance”) during this month brings you so close to G‑d.

However, once Rosh Hashanah comes, the King is in his palace. The awe and fear of His majesty is upon us, and we respond in kind, accepting His kingship and doing teshuvah from a place of awe.

In Elul, even though our effort to get closer to Hashem is limited, as we are limited, it is so precious to Hashem, that he showers us with infinite love from above.2
This brings us to our haftorah. In the second verse of the haftorah, G‑d says that when Moshiach comes, “I will make your windows from kadkod.”3

“Kadkod” is a precious stone. What kind of gemstone is it?

The Talmud4 tells us:

“Rabbi Shmuel son of Nachmeini said, ‘It is a dispute between two angels in heaven, Michael and Gabriel . . . one says it is a shoham and the other says it is a yashfei .’ G‑d says, “Let it be like this one and like that one.”5

Now that we know that kadkod means shoham and yashfei together, we need to know what these stones are, and what the two angels are arguing about.

There are precious stones that produce their own light from within. Then there are others that if you cut and polish them well will reflect light in the most beautiful way. The shoham gives its own light; the yashfei reflects light.

The debate between the angels is about the reward we will receive when Moshiach will come.

One says yashfei, it will be based on our work, effort and accomplishments—just like a yashfei reflects light, depending on how well it is polished and its proximity to light.

The other says shoham, which gives its own light. The reward will not be based on our accomplishments. Rather, it will be G‑d’s infinite revelation as a gift from above.

G‑d says that we will get both: the reward for our efforts, and He will also bestow upon us his infinite revelation as a gift.6

This is what the month of Elul is all about. We get both, the reward for our efforts to come closer to G‑d, through teshuvah (“repentance”), tefilah (“prayer”) and tzedakah (“charity”). And He in turn bestows upon us His infinite love, acceptance and closeness, beyond anything we could have achieved on our own.

Now is the most opportune time to get close to G‑d. The King is in the field. Seize the day. Put more effort into your Jewish expression, especially teshuvah, tefilah and tzedakah.

May our efforts bring pleasure to G‑d, may He grant us a happy and sweet new year, and may we merit receiving the biggest smile of all, when He will say: “Your work is done; Moshiach is here!”