I Am My Beloved’s And My Beloved Is Mine

Last week Arnie and I attended Shabbat services at another synagogue to hear our grandson read Torah. The congregation acknowledged the beginning of the month of Elul. The rabbi was not there, rather a lay leader offered congratulations and a blessing to a young couple who will be married in a week. He mentioned that Elul is connected to words from the “Song of Songs.” This sparked an interest into how this month affects us.

Tomorrow is our 53rd anniversary. As a very young bride I did not understand that our wedding date had such an important connection to the month of Elul. I did not remember that the letters in Elul also are part of the beautiful words inscribed on my wedding ring, or that aleph, lamed, vav, lamed are the acronym for “Ani L’Dodi V’ Dodi Li” (“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine”). I believed, and still think, that the phrase is beautifully romantic. Our rabbi also taught us that the month of Elul was a very opportune time to marry and why weddings are encouraged during this time.

Alef, lamed, vav, lamed form the name of the meaningful last month of the Hebrew calendar. The “Song of Songs” (Shir Hashirim) is, on the surface, a love song about a man and a woman but it is also a profound metaphor for the love between God and the Jewish people. Elul is the time when we work on drawing closer to God and preparing for the High Holy Days.

It is a tradition in some congregations to blow the Shofar for the 40 days of Elul except Shabbat. The pristine call of the shofar reflects the soul’s cry for meaning and is a wakeup call. I am reminded to strive to be a better person in the coming year and focus on self-care, spiritual nourishment and introspection. It’s the time to realize purpose in life. It is that time of year when I step back, look at myself critically and honestly, and then go forward with the intention of improving my life and making a plan for the new year.

Arnie has been part of my life almost all of my life. This poem by Rabbi Rami Shapiro is like a love song to him.

We are loved by an unending love.
We are embraced by arms that find us
even when we are hidden from ourselves.
We are touched by fingers that soothe us
even when we are too proud for soothing.
We are counseled by voices that guide us
even when we are too embittered to hear.
We are loved by an unending love.
We are supported by hands that uplift us
even in the midst of a fall.
We are urged on by eyes that meet us
even when we are too weak for meeting.
We are loved by an unending love.
Embraced, touched, soothed, and counseled,
Ours are the arms, the fingers, the voices;
Ours are the hands, the eyes, the smiles;
We are loved by an unending love

Michele Shugarman

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