September: The Belly of Elul

Amanda Nube

Amanda Nube

EVERYTHING THAT EXISTS IN SPACE ALSO EXISTS IN TIME, AND EVERYTHING THAT EXISTS IN TIME ALSO EXISTS IN SPACE. Friday night we enter into the new moon of Elul, the moon of the betulah, the bride, the virgo. Elul (אלול) is also an acronym for the Hebrew אני לדודי ודודי לי (ani l’dodi v’dodi li) – I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine, from the Song of Songs. What that means to me is that this month, this moon, this time, is sacred and mine for the keeping and care-taking. This month is a wake up call. This month is one of preparation, priming, and pruning. In the month of Elul the shofar is said to sound everyday to awaken us to our senses. It is calling out to us. What is that calling? For each of us it is our own awakening and calling that we must pursue. This month is a deep introspection to prepare us to enter into the next realm during the new year next month, in the month of Tishrei. It is as if Tishrei is Shabbat and Elul is the preparation before Shabbat. Early Friday we awake with a sense of purpose for the day, we do our work, making sure it is complete, and as the dusk approaches and the start of Shabbat is near, we perform a bathing and garmenting ritual to transition from weekday to weekend. Elul is the transition from the rest of the year to Tishrei, the head of the year, Rosh Hashana.


In Secrets of the Mikvah, Rav Dovber Pinson writes, “Just as there is a physical temple, there is a temple within the realm of time, and that is Shabbat. On Friday night, we enter the Temple of time. In the physical realm, the Cohen / Priest who served there needed a special means of transitioning from the outside, mundane world, into that inner, sacred space. They were required to wash their hands and feet with water, to immerse in a Mikvah, and to don special garments. The same means allow us to transition into the temporal Temple, Shabbat. We, too, need to wash ourselves, at least our hands and feet (Shabbos, 25b. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, 260: 1), and for extra measure, immerse ourselves in a Mikvah, and put on special garments for Shabbos (Shabbos, 113a). Just as our spirit is cleansed in Nahar Dinor, we need to wash our bodies in a flow of hot water to purge and eliminate the accumulated energies of the past week. These energies are called “Kelipos.” When we physically release dirt, sweat, oils and dead skin cells, we are physiologically releasing mental and emotional tension, psychologically releasing negative thoughts and emotions, and spiritually releasing ourselves from the hold of the Kelipos. At the same time we are opening ourselves up, physically, psychologically and spiritually to receive the Kedushah of Shabbos.”

So the wake up call of Elul is preparing us for the “Days of Awe” and the rest of the year ahead. In Chinese medicine, cleansing through special food and through releasing toxins from the skin is also recommended for this specific time of year. This end of summer season, and any change of season or change of routine, is associated with the Earth element, the muscles and digestion, the stomach, pancreas, and spleen organs. Common imbalances in this area have us feeling really “off center,” ungrounded, and bring worry and stress = Kelipos! The taste associated with this element and this imbalance is sweet. Lesley Tierra writes, “A little sweet strengthens these aspects, but in excess, it makes us “sticky” – stuck and needy. In time this not only injuries our digestive processes, but impairs our abilities to develop strong identities as well.”

And, it is Virgo season. The mazal/sign of the betulah, virgin. Kelley Rosano writes,  “In Virgo, we are to separate the wheat from the chafe. It is essential to be nurtured and developed. What no longer serves our soul’s evolution is to be discarded. You are encouraged to cleanse your body, mind, heart and soul. Embody more of who you truly are, a beautiful soul of Light. Virgo stands for the ‘womb of time’. You are to give birth to your authentic Self. Ask yourself, ‘What supports my balance?’ Shift and evolve out of the need for worry, fault-finding and skepticism.”

Stay tuned for our Chodesh Chai! Youtube   Elul video coming next week…. Chodesh Chai means Monthly Chai or Monthly Life, depending on how you pronounce “chai.” To me chai tea is a marvelous and medicinal elixir to warm the belly and body and bring joy through healthy tastes! Our Chodesh Chai study group led us to record these 20-30 minute recorded mixtures of herbal medicine, Jewish lore, and meditation/ritual practices. More info can be found here:

CHODESH TOV, and here’s a beautiful tune to accompany the spirit of Ani l’dodi, v’dodi li:


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