Elul 2022

Elul 5782
September 2022

Shalom Haverim v’Mishpochah (Peace and wholeness, friends and family)!

The Fall Feasts are coming soon, and Messiah is coming again! Look up! Your redemption draws near, and complete recovery from this recent siege is on the horizon. Let’s be an encouragement to our brothers and sisters. Let’s proclaim the hope we have in Yeshua!

Elul is the last month of the Jewish year and the final month prior to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish civil new year. This is a month in which to spiritually prepare for the High Holiday season of reflection and repentance.

This is traditionally a time of introspection and personal stock-taking, known in Hebrew as cheshbon hanefesh, “an accounting of the soul.” This process is conducted in preparation for Rosh Hashanah when, Jewish tradition teaches, all of humanity is called to attention as we look towards Yom Kippur [the Day of Atonement] divine judgment is issued. The customs associated with Elul are all intended to help cultivate the proper mindset for this preparation.

Perhaps the best-known Elul tradition is the blowing of the shofar every weekday after morning services. As on Rosh Hashanah, the daily shofar blasts are intended to rouse us from complacency and jolt us into repentance.
It is also a relatively new custom to recite Psalm 27 daily, which speaks of the assurance of God’s protection and includes a plea that God not forsake his people.

One of the best-known teachings about Elul is that the four Hebrew letters of the month’s name are an acronym from the verse in Song of Songs 6:3: Ani l’dodi v’dodi li (“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”). Song of Songs is understood to be an allegory in which the lovers are God and Israel and Messiah and His Bride. Elul is thus understood to be a time of recommitting to our relationship with God. Let’s take this time to get closer to our Messiah.

The pomegranate is one of the “seven species” of Israel listed in the Torah

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of streams of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines, fig trees, and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; Deuteronomy 8:7,8

In Jewish tradition, pomegranates are a symbol of fertility and love, as in Song of Songs 4:3 “Your lips are like a crimson thread; your mouth is lovely. Your brow behind your veil [gleams] like a pomegranate split open.”

Pomegranates decorate many Torah scrolls 
The pomegranate is one of several symbolic foods incorporated into the a Sephardic (Mediterranean, Eastern and Spanish) cultures’ New Year. Before eating the pomegranate seeds, Jews traditionally say, “May we be as full of mitzvot (commandments) as the pomegranate is full of seeds.”
The pomegranate is often traditionally said to have 613 seeds, corresponding to the 613 (commandments) derived from the Bible. The tradition says if you average the seeds in all the pomegranates in the world, that is the number… a sweet way of pointing us to the  Bible and its rich teachings.
Pomegranates have been cultivated in Israel (and throughout the Middle East) for thousands of years, and they continue to grow there in abundance. When you join us in Israel you can enjoy fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice throughout the country.
Pomegranates make frequent appearances in the Bible

On the High Priest’s Garments
“For the edge of the skirts make pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet material all around and alternate them with bells of gold—gold bell and pomegranate, gold bell and pomegranate—all around the hem of the robe. – Exodus 28:33

In the Promised Land

Then they came to the Valley of Eshcol, and from there they cut off a branch with a single cluster of grapes; and they carried it on a pole between two men, with some of the 
 pomegranates and the figs. Numbers 13:23

In The Temple
So he made the pillars, and two rows around on the one lattice to cover the capitals which were on the top of the pomegranates; and so he did for the other capital.
1 Kings 7:18

May you have a “pomegranate” season – infused with the fruit of the Spirit, the fruit of your labors and marked by abundance in the midst of today’s spiritual warfare!

As we look towards the year 5783, we are watching for unusual moves of the Holy Spirit. The number 3 in this year equates to the Hebrew letter “gimel”. This is the third letter of the ‘alef-bet’ and is emblematic of the Holy Spirit as our advocate, counselor. Ancient pictographs show gimel as a camel, bringing provision from afar.

May your New Year be blessed with closeness to God and His people, with overflowing abundance of love and generosity, and gratitude for the great adventure of which you are a part!

Thanks to your generosity, we are able to “lift up the hands, and strengthen” those who are less fortunate than us. This month we will again support the Ukrainian (and Russian!) Jews who are emigrating to Israel. Sadly, when all the “hoopla” surrounding a humanitarian crisis quiets down, our tendency is to relegate important issues to the ‘back burner’. 

This return to Israel is a fulfillment of prophecy!
For I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the lands; and I will bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and bring it about that you walk in My statutes, and are careful and follow My ordinances. And you will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.
Ezekiel 36:24-28

Let’s play our part in this amazing fulfillment of prophecy!

If you are in the Bay Area, please join us as for our next Shabbat service Friday, September 16, at 7pm at tfh.org/beitabba

With gratitude and love

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