1. There are many interpretations of the name Chai Elul. The most fundamental interpretation is that this day infuses chayos — “life-energy” into all the dimensions of Elul. Since Elul is the month of stocktaking for the entire year and the month of preparation for the coming year, it must be filled with the service of G‑d in the three pillars on which the world1 stands — Torah, prayer, and deeds of kindness. Chai Elul must introduce additional energy in all these services.

Frequently, however, when we speak to people in spiritual terms, there are some who know what to do and others who become confused and waste time on matters which are not worthy of any attention at all.

One of the ways to overcome this difficulty is to associate spiritual concepts with material things, for all people relate equally in this sphere. In regard to spiritual matters, this is dependent on a person’s feelings and his understanding and in this sphere, there are differences between individuals. In contrast, in regard to deed, the totality of the Jewish people are required to observe all 248 positive mitzvos and all 365 negative mitzvos every day.

(Thinking is also required to perform a deed. Nevertheless, in this instance, one’s thoughts are goal-directed and therefore, can be focused easily. Thus in regard to the month of Elul, it is easy to find direct expressions for the increase of life-energy mentioned previously.)

In Elul, it is customary to increase one’s prayers. Indeed, in this month, even Torah scholars take time from their studies and devote it to prayer. This increase should be associated with the portion of Tehillim recited daily and also the three additional chapters which are added in the month of Elul. Similarly, there are other special prayers which are recited at this time. Therefore, there is no need to search for how one should make an increase in connection with Chai Elul; the area of activity is clearly outlined.

Similarly, in regard to Torah study, there are matters that are of present concern, laws that are relevant to Elul, to Rosh HaShanah, and to the days that follow. Furthermore, we are within thirty days of the holiday of Sukkos, when it is mandatory to study the laws pertaining to that holiday.

Likewise, in regard to deeds of kindness — in order to clarify where our focus should lie: The primary concern is to provide our fellow Jews with their holiday needs. Thus in regard to Rosh HaShanah, it is written “And send portions to those who do not have prepared, for the day is holy unto our L‑rd.” And we are assured, whoever increases will receive increased blessings.2

Thus we have clear and particular directives in regard to all three areas of Torah study, prayer, and deeds of kindness. Particularly, in regard to deeds of kindness, we will conclude this gathering by making everyone an agent to distribute tzedakah. A second dollar will be added in connection with Chai Elul.

As mentioned, whoever increases will receive increased blessings in all of his concerns, including a kesivah vachasimah tovah for a good and sweet year. Also he will be given the potential to increase life-energy in all the service of Elul and to do so immediately.

As mentioned previously, the name Elul also serves as an acronym for a verse associated with the redemption. “Tzedakah brings the Redemption near.” Similarly studying the laws of the Redemption in the Rambam’s Mishneh Torah and concentrating on the blessing of the Redemption in Shemoneh Esreh precipitate its coming.

By increasing our Torah study, prayer, and deeds of kindness, we increase the kesivah vachasimah tovah for a good and sweet year which we all will receive together with the entire Jewish people. L’Shanah tovah tikosaiv v’tichasaim — May you be written down and inscribed for a good year.