1. Jews should always seek to conduct themselves according to the directives of the Torah. Thus just as the Torah begins with the letter beis which is associated with the word berachah, “blessing,” so too, a Jew should always “begin with blessing.”1 And indeed, we should conduct ourselves at all times in a manner that will increase blessing in the world at large.2

Each person is obligated to say, “The world was created for me.” And therefore, everything which exists in the world at large must be reflected in a Jew’s conduct. Conversely, a Jew must appreciate the far-reaching effects that his conduct will have, that his deeds will affect the entire world. And indeed, the world at large begs him, as it were, to conduct himself in a manner which will bring blessing to the world in both a spiritual and material way.

There must be a fusion of spirituality and materiality and this will bring out a new development in both realms. I.e., even our material world will be suffused with spirituality, and all the material blessings in the world will come as a reflection of one’s spiritual service. (In microcosm, we see this in regard to every individual Jew. The material blessings he receives stem from his soul. From his soul, the influence is drawn down to his animal soul, his body, and his portion of the world at large.) Conversely, although the Torah is “G‑d’s word,” it is only in this physical world that the Torah can be observed.

The above is particularly relevant to the month of Elul, a month which emphasizes the service of “I am my Beloved’s,” a month in which the bond of love a Jew shares with G‑d is openly revealed. Indeed, this, and not a love of material things or even a love of spiritual things, e.g., intellect,3 is the true love felt by every single Jew.

This relates to a teaching of Pirkei Avos: “The Holy One, blessed be He, acquired five possessions in this world: Torah,... heaven and earth,...” The entire world was created through the medium of the Torah; and a Jew causes all the entities in the world, including the material entities, to be included in the “possession” of Torah.

This is significant for our world is dominated by material existence. Indeed, when a comparison is made of the four types of existence: human life, animal life, plant life, and inanimate existence, the quantity of the entities that fall into the latter category far surpass those included in the previous three. There is far more earth and water in the world than there are living beings.

The earth is also created by G‑d, for the power to create ex nihilo is possessed by G‑d alone. This power is not openly evident. There is, however, a positive quality in earth, the quality of selflessness as reflected in the phrase, “My soul will be as dust to all.”

And similarly, there are other entities which reflect self-nullification to G‑d, for example, the sun. The sun revolves from east to west, because “the Divine Presence is in the west.” This movement is thus an open act of self-nullification to G‑d.

Indeed, the very concept of the sun’s movement inspires questions. Since the sun is a very huge entity, an extremely great power must be necessary to move it. And what is the power that moves the sun, G‑dliness.

This concept is relevant to a child, for even a child is amazed by the concept of the sun’s movement. Indeed, we find that it was this concept which stimulated Avraham’s mind and provoked him to begin searching for G‑d. Similarly, every child wonders about the movement of the celestial beings, especially when he sees unique events for example, the eclipses which we recently witnessed. When, however, a Jewish child is educated in the manner which we received as a heritage from Avraham our Patriarch, he will surely come to realize that the power that moves the sun is G‑dliness.

Furthermore, he sees that the movement of the sun and the stars goes on without change. This allows him to appreciate that the source for such movement could only be G‑d’s infinite power. And similarly, he sees in his own life, his power for growth and movement has only one source, G‑dliness. This should motivate him to a greater commitment to the Torah and its mitzvos.

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2. We are nearing the conclusion of the month of the Elul and the third forty day period which Moshe spent on Mount Sinai. The conclusion of those forty days is Yom Kippur, a holiday which shares an intrinsic connection with Rosh HaShanah4 as reflected by the expression “the ten days between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.”

This is a time when all Jews extend wishes of blessing and goodwill to each other. Furthermore, it is a time when the love relationship between G‑d and the Jewish people is emphasized. Furthermore, the fact that this love relationship is expressed by the phrase Ani LeDodi is significant. The word Ani is associated with the declaration Modeh Ani which a Jew makes every morning. And thus, from the very first moment of the day, a Jew becomes aware of the love relationship he shares with G‑d. This bond is then extended and continued throughout the entire day.

This is particularly relevant to a mature woman who has educated and is in the midst of educating children. This process of education must impart to the children the importance of expressing thanks to G‑d, as reflected in Modeh Ani. Similarly, as emphasized in Modeh Ani, we must become aware of G‑d’s great mercy, how He is “our Merciful Father” and “the All-Merciful Father.”5 Modeh Ani concludes mentioning G‑d’s “faithfulness,”6 a faithfulness which continues every moment of the day. For at every moment, G‑d brings the world into being and grants it life “from His full, open, holy, and generous hand.”

And this relates to the blessing for a kesivah vachasimah tovah which we wish each other in these concluding days of the month of Elul, and in particular on the present day, the third7 day of Selichos. Surely, every Jew has already been granted abundant Divine blessings for children, life, and prosperity and for a good and sweet year. And within these blessings will be the ultimate blessing, “that we will live in His presence,” i.e., in the Third Beis HaMikdash.

The latter will be hastened by the distribution of money to be given to tzedakah, for tzedakah brings the Redemption near. And more particularly, this will be hastened by giving the tzedakah speedily, without hesitation.

In this context, it is also worthy to mention the importance of providing all who are lacking with their needs for the upcoming holidays. And these provisions should be made even before Rosh HaShanah so that these individuals will be able to approach the holidays with peace of mind. Giving this tzedakah will affect the nature of the Selichos prayers which we recite and cause them to be acceptable more readily.

There is a unique dimension to the Selichos prayers that we recite this year. The final day of Selichos is Sunday. Sunday is referred in the Torah as “one day,” not “the first day,” i.e., a day when G‑d was “one with His world.” And proceeding directly from that day, we come to Rosh HaShanah on which we blow the shofar and proclaim G‑d as King of the world. This year, there is a unique dimension because the shofar is sounded on both days of Rosh HaShanah.8

And this will lead to the time when, G‑d will “sound the great shofar for our freedom.” And we will proceed together with the entire Jewish people to the Third Beis HaMikdash in the true and ultimate Redemption. May this take place in the immediate future.