Section 1

The first letters of the words of the verse, Shir HaShirim 6:3. אני לדודי ודודי לי — “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine,” form the name אלול1Elul.2 The maamar in Likkutei Torah3 beginning with this verse, explains the connection between the month of Elul and “I am my Beloved’s…”: that the [spiritual service] of Elul is 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].4 Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, by contrast, [reflect the second portion of the verse:] “My Beloved is Mine;” G‑dliness is drawn down from Above (in Kabbalistic terminology, “an arousal from Above’). [The first and second portions of the verse reflect a cause and effect relationship; the G‑dliness drawn down on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur comes as a result of “the arousal from below,” [on the part of the Jewish people] during the month of Elul. Thus the letters of the name Elul, allude to the entire verse: “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine,” {i.e., that even the phrase “my Beloved is mine,” [which refers to Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur], is alluded to by the letters of Elul}. For the arousal from below in Elul (“I am my Beloved’s) (also) serves as a preparation for the drawing down [and revelation] of G‑dliness, (“My Beloved is mine,”) on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.5

Explanation is, however, required: The fact that the letters vav and lamed (which allude to “my Beloved is mine”) are part of the word Elul, indicate that Elul is not only a preparation for [the drawing down of G‑dliness] alluded to by the phrase “My Beloved is mine,” but that [the revelation of] “My Beloved is mine” is also manifest within the month of Elul itself.


Section 2

The maamar [in Likkutei Torah] continues, stating that Elul is a time when the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy6 are revealed.7 Although the Divine service of Elul is characterized by the verse: “I am my Beloved’s,” i.e., it is an arousal from below initiated by man, this arousal from below — particularly when it comes from someone who is distant from G‑dliness — is evoked by an arousal and a generation of potential from Above, [i.e., the revelation of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy].

The revelation of these Thirteen Attributes of Mercy is extended to every member of the Jewish people, even those most distant [from G‑d].8 It generates potential from Above that enables the service of “I am my Beloved’s” on the part of the Jewish people, [whatever their spiritual standing].9

Nevertheless, (primarily,) the revelation of Elul merely generates potential — it is not a revelation that arouses man’s [service] — the service itself comes from man’s initiative: “I am my Beloved’s.”10 [Indeed,] this is what constitutes the advantage of the Divine service of Elul over the Divine service of the Ten Days of Repentance. During the Ten Days of Repentance, and particularly, on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, the revelation [of G‑dliness] is [so powerful that] it arouses man and man’s Divine service comes in response to the revelation from Above. The fundamental expression and the quintessence of man’s Divine service — service on one’s own initiative — is the Divine service of Elul, “I am my Beloved’s.”


Section 3

In order to explain these two aspects of the revelation of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy in Elul — that the revelation extends to every Jew, even to those very distant from G‑dliness, but, nevertheless, the revelation does not actually motivate the person, but merely enables him11 — the maamar [in Likkutei Torah] continues [by offering an analogy]: that the revelation of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy in Elul can be compared to a king [who appears in] a field.12

Among the differences between a king as he appears in a field and as he appears in his palace are:13

a) the level of revelation: The fundamental revelation of the splendor of the king — [which is an intrinsic element of his sovereignty, as indicated by the verse:]14 “Your eyes shall behold the king in his splendor” — is in his palace, when he is wearing his regal garments and his crown . This is not the case when he is in the field.15

b) the revelation itself: This takes place primarily in the field. When the king is in his palace, “one may only enter [his presence] with permission — and this is granted only to the nation’s elite, to a select few.”16 When, by contrast, he is in the field “anyone who so desires is given the license — and the opportunity17 — to go out and greet him. He receives them all pleasantly and shows a smiling countenance to all.”

Similarly, in the analogue, the revelations of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur — and in a larger sense, of the Ten Days of Teshuvah as a whole — are comparable to the presence of a king in his palace. In such an instance, the revelation motivates a person’s [emotional reaction], like a king in his palace (who wears regal garments and the royal crown) who casts dread and fear [upon those who enter his court].

Nevertheless, for a person to feel the revelation of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, it is (fundamentally)18 necessary for it to be preceded by Divine service in Elul. Through [such efforts] he becomes one of “the nation’s elite” and the “select few” who enter the king’s palace.19

The revelation of Elul, by contrast, is comparable to a king in the field; i.e., [G‑dliness is manifest] in a manner that the revelation does not motivate a person. It only makes possible this Divine service. However, the capacity [to initiate] this Divine service is granted to everyone, even the most distant. [This concept is illustrated by the analogy of] the king in the field. When the king is in such a state and setting, he does not cast dread and fear [on those who see him],20 and, particularly, not on the people found in the field who are on a low level.21 Moreover, when the king is in such a state and setting, he does not even arouse a desire for the people to come and greet him.22 This concept is reflected in the words of the maamar [in Likkutei Torah]: “anyone who so desires to go out and greet him,” i.e., going out to greet the king is [primarily] dependent on their own desire.23 Nevertheless, the possibility that is granted them to greet the king results from his being in the field. Because the king is in the field, everyone has the license and the capacity to greet him.


Section 4

Explanation is required: On the surface, in order to explain that the revelation of Elul (and the opportunity that revelation presents) is granted to everyone, it is only relevant to state that when the king is in the field “anyone who so desires is given the license — and the opportunity — to go out and greet him.” Why does [the maamar in Likkutei Torah] add: “He receives them all pleasantly and shows a smiling countenance to all.” The question is particularly apt since the fact that the king “receives them all pleasantly and shows a smiling countenance to all” reflects [in the analogue] the drawing down [of G‑dliness] and the revelation from Above that follows [man’s] Divine service.24

The above requires explanation: The drawing down of G‑dliness [and the revelation] that follows [man’s] Divine service, “my Beloved is mine,” occurs during the Ten Days of Teshuvah, while the analogy of the king in the field serves as an explanation for the fact that the revelation of Elul (enables [man’s Divine service]) and [thus] precedes it. [Thus seemingly, the king’s response to their greeting him is superfluous in the analogy.]25 Also, the two expressions used in the maamar — “He receives them all pleasantly and shows a smiling countenance to all” require explanation, as does the choice of words in the original: “receives them… pleasantly26 and “shows a smiling countenance.”27

It is possible to explain the above points by prefacing a comparison between the revelation of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy in Elul with the revelations of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur and [highlighting] the two novel dimensions of the revelation of Elul:

a) In order to receive the revelations of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, one’s Divine service must be on an elevated level ([to refer back to the maamar in Likkutei Torah, acting as one of] “the nation’s elite” and the “select few.” In order to receive the revelation of Elul, by contrast, one need only go out to greet the king. In the analogue, this refers to arousing within oneself the acceptance of the yoke of Kingdom of heaven.28

b) The revelation of Elul also extends to those who are found in the desert29 of the forces of unholiness.30 This is understood from the fact that the primary aspect of the revelation of Elul is to enable the Divine service of teshuvah.31 In a simple sense, teshuvah refers to repentance for undesirable conduct ([conduct symbolized by] a desert). [On a deeper level,] the fundamental aspect of teshuvah focuses on [correcting one’s] having cast off the yoke of the Heavenly King.32 From this, it is understood that the revelations of Elul extend even to those who are utterly distant. [True,] the maamar [in Likkutei Torah states] that the revelation of Elul extends only to the field (and not to the desert). The intent, however, is that the revelation of Thirteen Attributes of Mercy is (not in the desert itself, for the desert refers to matters that are against G‑d’s will. In such matters, G‑dliness cannot be revealed. Instead,) [the intent is that the revelation reaches] the Jews who are found in the desert. The revelation gives them the power to leave the desert and [go to] the field to greet the king.

On this basis, it can be said that in [the words of the maamar that] the king “receives them all pleasantly,”33 the emphasis is on “all,” i.e., [including] even those who only desire to greet the king, but are held captive by their evil inclination [and cannot follow through and do so on their own initiative]. Consequently, even when they desire to turn [to G‑d] in teshuvah and accept the yoke of the kingdom of Heaven, they are not able to bring this desire into actual expression. [The King] “receives” even such individuals “pleasantly.”34 This arouses within them a powerful and mighty desire to greet the King. As a result of this desire, they are able to overcome the obstacles and hindrances [and turn to G‑d in teshuvah].35


Section 5

In the maamar [in Likkutei Torah, the Alter Rebbe] adds a further point:36 the king “shows a smiling countenance to all.” The difference between “receiving them all pleasantly” and “showing a smiling countenance to all” [can be explained as follows]: “Receiving,” [מקבל, in the original,] refers to [accepting] something that existed (before it was received); a person receives a preexisting entity. “Showing a smiling countenance to all” indicates that one’s own “shining countenance” (that he possessed even before he shows it) is radiated and revealed to another person.37

[On this basis, we can understand why after the maamar]states that the king “receives them all pleasantly,” it adds that he “shows a smiling countenance to all.” By receiving them all pleasantly, the king shows that the desire of the people to greet the king38 is accepted pleasantly by him. Adding that the king “shows a smiling countenance to all,” indicates that when a person is aroused with a desire to turn to G‑d in teshuvah, a revelation of “the smiling countenance” Above is drawn down to him, i.e., [he is shown] the pleasure ([reflected in] the smile) of the King Himself. This pleasure is far loftier than the pleasure (the King displays when “receiving them all pleasantly”), which is aroused by the teshuvah of the people. As explained in another source,39 the source for [the pleasure reflected in] a smile and laughter is the essence of [the power of] pleasure, (pure pleasure that is not compounded [by any other influences or causes and] which [far] surpasses pleasure that results from a given factor (pleasure that is compounded).

It is possible to explain that the parallel to “the smiling countenance” in the analogue is the pleasure [G‑d takes] in the Jewish people themselves40 (which is loftier than the pleasure that results from the Jews’ observance of the Torah and its mitzvos and even loftier than the pleasure that results from the Divine service of teshuvah).41 This pleasure lies within G‑d’s very Essence. When the King “shows a smiling countenance” to the people and this pleasure is revealed to a person who is aroused with a desire to teshuvah, this awakens within him (“as water reflects a face”)42 pleasure in G‑dliness, so much so that the person’s pleasure in G‑dliness becomes the essence of his pleasure.43 This gives him even more power to overcome any obstacles and hindrances44 and turn to G‑d in complete teshuvah.


Section 6

[Further] explanation is, nevertheless, required: Previously,45 it was explained that the revelation of Elul does not merely provide an opportunity for Divine service — {[as stated above,]46 when the King is in the field, “anyone who so desires is given the license, and the opportunity, to go out and greet him”} — but that the revelation also arouses and motivates a person [to Divine service]. {As a result of the King “receiving them all pleasantly” and, particularly, a result of His “showing a smiling countenance to all,” a person is aroused to turn to G‑d in complete teshuvah.} Nevertheless, the description of the Divine service of Elul with the phrase, “I am my Beloved’s,” indicates that man’s own service [and not his response to the revelations from Above] is being highlighted.

The difficulty is even greater.47 The concept that Elul does not merely provide an opportunity for Divine service, but also arouses and motivates a person is understood from the concept of “the king in the field” as a whole.48 When the king is in the field, in addition to the fact that “anyone who so desires is given the license, and the opportunity, to go out and greet him,” the very fact that the king is found in the field, in the place where the people are located, arouses within them the desire to greet him.49

It is possible to offer the following resolution: The people’s desire to greet the king emanates from the essence of their being, for the king is the heart of the entire nation.50 As such, their bond with the king lies at the very essence of their being.51 Nevertheless, when the king and the people are geographically distant, it is possible that their connection with the king — and as a result, their desire to greet him — will be hidden. When the king is in the field, the place where they are found, this [inner] desire is revealed.

Similarly in the analogue, the arousal to teshuvah that comes as a result of the Elul revelation of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy reflects how the revelation of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy reveals the inner will of the Jewish people [which lies at the core of their being]. {This is also indicated by the continuation of the maamar [in Likkutei Torah] which, after offering the analogy of the king in the field, explains that G‑d’s name א-ל is the first of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy.52 It is the source for the others and includes them all. G‑d’s name א-ל is identified with His actual infinite light, as implied by the verse:53 אל יהוה ויאר לנוּ “Keil Havayah shines light to us.” Light resembles the essence. {As explained in several sources,54 there is a difference between or, “light,” and shefa, “influence.” When imparting influence, the one who imparts the influence limits himself according to the recipient’s level.55 Light, by contrast, is representative of the source of light,56 [revealing the qualities of its source, as they are in essence]. [In a similar way,] the revelation of Keil shines to every Jew, [making G‑dliness the essence of his being].57

Moreover, the revelation of the name Keil in every Jew is the lord and ruler over his inner being,58 as indicated by the fact that the name ישראל, Israel, can be divided as י שר א-ל, “א-ל is a ruler.” [The yud which begins the term implies that this is an ongoing activity.]59 For this reason, the bittul (“self-nullification”) to G‑dliness that is within every Jew is bittul that surpasses the limits of reason and intellect, for G‑d’s infinite light that transcends the Spiritual Cosmos is revealed within the Jewish people.60 The revelation of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy in Elul — of which Keil is the first, the source for all the others, and which includes them all — arouses and reveals the aspect of Keil that exists in every Jew.}

On this basis, it can be explained why the service of Elul is described as “I am my Beloved’s,” even though the arousal [of the Jewish people’s love for G‑d] comes about because of a revelation from Above. For the revelation from Above is merely a precipitator through which man’s inner will is revealed.61


Section 7

It is possible to say that the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy [are endowed with a connection to a higher dimension of G‑dliness] as a result of their arousing and revealing the inner desire of the Jewish people. Since the inner desire of the Jewish people for G‑dliness comes as a result of their existence being rooted in G‑d’s Essence,62 [their arousal to G‑dliness through] the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy elevates these Attributes [and brings them into contact with His Essence].

To explain: The intent of the statement that creation is for the sake of the Jewish people63 includes not only the creation of this [material] world, but also the existence of all the revealed levels64 — even the loftiest ones — [within the Spiritual Cosmos. These elevated levels of G‑dly revelation exist for one sole purpose — to make possible and to advance the Divine service of the Jewish people.]65 Through the descent of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy from their [innate] place (the King’s palace, a level above the Spiritual Cosmos) to the field to arouse and reveal the inner desire of the Jewish people, it is revealed within them that [G‑d’s] intent in bringing them into being was [not for the revealed levels of G‑dliness that they manifest,] but the sake of the Jewish people, whose source is in G‑d’s Essence.66

The above concepts can be connected with the verse:67 “A king is subjugated to the field.” Even a king who has none over him is subjugated to the field, because he derives his sustenance from it.68 [On this verse,] the Zohar comments:69 “Who is the King? This refers to the Sublime King70 Who is bonded with the field.” It is possible to explain that the sustenance, as it were, of the Sublime King comes about because He descends and is drawn down into the field.71 Through this descent, it is revealed that [G‑d’s] intent in the existence of [this sublime rung] is for the sake of the Jewish people who are rooted in G‑d’s Essence.

The Zohar states: “There is a field and there is a field,” i.e., a field of holiness72 and a field of forces opposed to holiness.73 It is possible to explain74 that the concept that “the king is subjugated to the field” (that through his descent and being drawn down to the field, the Sublime King is elevated to a loftier level), comes about primarily through the revelation of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy that transcend the Spiritual Cosmos (which in a general sense are identified with “the Sublime King)75 to the Jews who are found in the desert (the field of the forces opposed to holiness).76 Through this, their inner desire [for G‑dliness is revealed and they depart from the desert (the field of the forces opposed to holiness) to the field of holiness to greet the king. Through the teshuvah of Jews who were previously estranged from G‑dliness to the furthermost extent, the inner dimension of the Jewish people is revealed, i.e., that their inner desire (even at the time that they sin) is focused on G‑dliness. [They sin] only because “their evil inclination overpowered them.”77

{[In a similar vein,] the Tzemach Tzedek interprets78 the verse:79 “For the maiden was found in the field; she cried out, but there was none to save her,” as meaning that “the maiden” (the soul) is found in the field of the forces opposed to holiness. Moreover, her being there made it possible for Esav, “the man of the field,”80 [the symbol of the forces opposed to holiness,] to “take hold of her and lie with her.”81 Nevertheless, even in such a situation, the soul’s desire is for holiness. It cries out bitterly because Esav, “the man of the field,” has taken hold of it. The outcry of the soul causes אין מושיע לה [— instead, of the phrase being interpreted literally, that “there is none to save her,” it should be understood in a positive manner —] the àéï, [the dimension of G‑dliness that transcends all definition and is therefore called, ayin, “nothingness,] will save her. Deliverance is drawn down from the level of ayin, that transcends the Spiritual Cosmos.}

The revelation of the Jew’s inner desire [for G‑dliness, even as they sin] (which stems from their souls being rooted in G‑d’s Essence), comes about through the teshuvah of the Jews who were originally in the field of the forces opposed to holiness (the desert).82 Therefore,83 the elevation that is brought about within the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy through their descent and being drawn down to low levels to arouse man, comes about primarily through the arousal of those who were originally drastically distant [from Him].


Section 8

On this basis, we can understand the concept that “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine” serves as an acronym for the name Elul. It is possible to explain84 that the phrase “my Beloved is mine” in the acronym of Elul refers (primarily) to the revelation of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy in the month of Elul.85 {Although the revelation of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy in Elul generates the potential for the Divine service of “I am my Beloved’s},86 “my Beloved is mine” is stated after “I am my Beloved’s,” because, when viewed from an inner perspective, “I am my Beloved’s (man’s service) surpasses “my Beloved is mine” (revelation from Above); [because of its prominence, it is stated first].87 As explained above (secs. 6 and 7), the intent of the revelation of Thirteen Attributes of Mercy is to arouse man’s Divine service and through that, the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy are elevated to a higher level.

There are two dimensions to this elevation:

a) the elevation that is brought about within the revelation from Above through its descent to this physical place to arouse man’s [Divine service] (as explained in sec. 7 above);

b) the elevation that results from the man’s actual arousal of teshuvah.

The latter point itself subdivides into two aspects:

i) the elevation stemming from that Divine pleasure generated by man’s Divine service and in particular, from his service of teshuvah. [In the words of the maamar from Likkutei Torah, the king:] “receives them all pleasantly.”

Afterwards there is revealed:

ii) the essential Divine pleasure in the Jewish people themselves, ([pleasure that surpasses the pleasure generated by man’s Divine service. This pleasure is more encompassing, because] the source of the souls [of the Jewish people] is on a loftier level than the source of the Torah and its mitzvos, [indeed,] loftier even than [the source of] the mitzvah of teshuvah. [In the words of the maamar from Likkutei Torah, the king:] “shows a smiling countenance to all” (as explained in sec. 5 above).

Man’s arousal to teshuvah (which leads to the revelation of “a pleasant countenance” and “a smiling countenance” [Above]) comes about through the revelation of “my Beloved is mine,” (the revelation of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy in the month of Elul). Therefore, it is possible to say that the effect of “I am my Beloved’s,” [man’s service,] on “my Beloved is mine,” [the revelation from Above,] is that even the revelation of “my Beloved is mine” is also elevated to the [sublime] pleasure [reflected in the King’s] “pleasant countenance” and “smiling countenance.”

May it be G‑d’s will that, through our deeds and our Divine service,88 in particular, through the Divine service of the month of Elul, we speedily merit the Future Redemption. Then there will be the ultimate expression of “a smiling countenance,” [the revelation of Divine pleasure,] as explained in numerous sources89 with regard to the contest the Holy One, blessed be He, will make for the sake of the righteous in the Ultimate Future.90 [In that era,] it will be overtly revealed that the entire purpose of the battle between good and bad (in this world) is so that there will be laughter and pleasure. “Then our mouths will be filled with laughter.” Tehillim 126:2. [As reflected by the words of the psalm, the verse is speaking about the era of the Ultimate Redemption.] May all this take place in the immediate future.