1. The month of Elul is associated with the parable of the Alter Rebbe found in Likkutei Torah which describes the service of אני לדודי ודודי לי “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” which characterizes the entire month,1 relating:

Before a king comes to a city, the people of the city come out and greet him in the field. Then, it is permitted [and the potential is granted2 ] for all those who desire to go and greet him. He receives them all with a pleasant countenance and shows a smiling countenance to all.

The fact that we are found in the field together with the king must effect our deed and action. Indeed, “deed is most essential.” The particular deeds required from each individual is a personal matter, dependent on the potentials each person possesses. In all cases, however, there must be an expression in the realm of deed — and in increase in that realm. (To demonstrate the importance of such an increase, two dollars [instead of the usual one] will be given to each individual to distribute to tzedakah.)

These gifts to tzedakah are also related to the concept of “the king in the field.” When the king is in the field, people can approach him while they are dressed informally as they are usually dressed in the field.3 This lack of formality requires a certain degree of protection. A Jew’s natural place is in a city surrounded by a wall. In contrast a field is connected with Eisav, “a man of field.”4 The protection which is, therefore, required comes from tzedakah which pushes away all undesirable influences.5

The latter point also establishes a connection with this week’s Torah portion which begins, “Appoint judges and policemen in all your gates.” The judges and police at the gates of a city protect the city by preventing all undesirable influences from entering. As explained in the sichah of the previous day, this concept is reflect in our service of “appointing judges,” i.e., those who give direction, “and police,” those who enforce it, over “his gates,” his sensory organs, the pathways through which outside stimuli enter his thinking processes.

The Torah’s command contains a further lesson. On a simple level, “all your gates” refer to the cities of Eretz Yisrael. Judges must be appointed in every city of our holy land. Our Sages, nevertheless, explained that this directive also applies in the Diaspora. Jewish communities there must also appoint judges.

These concepts are reflected in our service of G‑d. Eretz Yisrael refers to a place where G‑dliness is more openly revealed as implied by the Tzemach Tzedek’s directive to one of his Chassidim: “Make Eretz Yisrael here.” It is self-understood that a Jew in Eretz Yisrael — i.e., one who has realized such a service — will have “judges and police in his gates.” We are taught that even a Jew who cannot realize that level, who is in the Diaspora, must still take care to safeguard the purity of his sensory processes.

The service of “appointing judges” will lead to the fulfillment of the prophecy “And I will return your judges as in the early days,” when we will proceed together with “the king in the field,” the Messianic king, to Eretz Yisrael. May it be now, immediately.