We may still be in the thick of summer, but this week begins the Jewish month of Elul, the last month of the year, which means Rosh Hashanah is just 30 days away. In the Jewish calendar, this 30-day time period leading up to the New Year is an intense time focused on spiritual growth, introspection and preparing to stand in front of God to ask for another year of life.
The Talmud refers to Elul as “days of favor” – a time when it’s easier to access God’s forgiveness, to shake off our bad habits and step out of the rut we may be in. It was the time when Moses ascended Mount Sinai to receive the second tablets and attain forgiveness after the sin of the Golden Calf.
Each day of the month of Elul we blow the shofar as a reminder – wake up! Rosh Hashanah is coming; now is the time to change.
Interestingly, as this video below explains, 30 days seems to be an optimum amount of time to commit to a new task, undaunted. We are more likely to live up to our resolution if we commit to it for 30 days. And those 30 days can bring about a real, lasting change.
So this week, take the 30-day Elul challenge and pick one mitzvah, one positive action that you know you can stick to for 30 days, and do it every day – no matter what. It could be to turn off your iPhone every night (or just at dinner), to learn something Jewish for 5 minutes a day, to give one family member a compliment every day.
After 30 days you’ll see the results, and come into Rosh Hashanah invigorated, ready to take on more. That’s the secret to Jewish spiritual growth – one consistent step at a time brings you to the top of the mountain.