Rabbi Alex Kress
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson teaches, “If you see what needs to be repaired and how to repair it, then you have found a piece of the world that God has left for you to complete. But if you only see what is wrong and what is ugly in the world, then it is you yourself that needs repair.”
Life oscillates and often we meditate/reflect/pray in an effort to repair ourselves, to become aware of our shortcomings, or to fill holes in our hearts. But the end goal of this meditation/reflection/prayer is not to become whole simply for our own sake. Our goal is to become whole so that we can fix the piece of the world that the universe/God left for us to complete. As you meditate/reflect/pray this Elul on yourself and our world, think about this question: What is the piece of the world that the universe/God left for you to complete?
Va’Tih’hee alav, ruach elohim. (Numbers 24:2)
God's Presence Came Upon Him
These words come to us in a fantastic story in the Torah. A Moabite King sends out a non-Israelite prophet named Balaam to curse the Israelites. Balaam sets out with his talking donkey, and when he finally comes upon the Israelites, God’s Presence suffuses his spirit, and instead of a curse, Balaam opens his mouth and words we are familiar with come pouring out: MAH TOVU OHALECHA YAAKOV, MISHKENOTECHA YISRAEL - How great are your tents, Jacob, your dwelling places Israel.
The founder of Hasidic Judaism, the Baal Shem Tov, teaches us that, "Your tents” means your external appearance must be that of Jacob, a lower level, while "your dwelling places" – your interior – must be of the level of Israel.
Our job during Elul is to elevate our individual essence to the divine level of Israel while relegating our vanities to the lower level of Jacob. In allowing God to suffuse our spirits with positivity, generosity, and love, we shed the blinding fog of ego and emit a pure, bright light onto an often dark world.