As the last month of the Jewish year, Elul is traditionally a time of introspection and taking stock—a time to review one’s deeds and spiritual progress over the past year, and prepare for the upcoming “Days of Awe” of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
The word “Elul” is similar to the root of the verb “search” in Aramaic. The Talmud writes that the Hebrew word “Elul” can be expanded as an acronym for “Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li” – “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Song of Solomon 6:3). Elul is seen as a time to search one’s heart and draw close to God in preparation for the coming Day of Judgement, Rosh Hashanah, and Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur.
During the month of Elul, there are a number of special rituals leading up to the High Holy Days. It is customary to blow the shofar every morning (except on Shabbat) from Rosh Hodesh Elul (the first day of the month) until the day before Rosh Hashanah. The blasts are meant to awaken one’s spirits and inspire him to begin the soul searching which will prepare him for the High Holy Days. As part of this preparation, Elul is the time to begin the sometimes-difficult process of granting and asking for forgiveness. It is also customary to recite Psalm 27 every day from Rosh Hodesh Elul through Hoshanah Rabbah on Sukkot (in Tishrei).
Psalm 27 begins with the words: “The Lord is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life-whom shall I dread?” There are many ways to interpret this Psalm and David Sharir in his book David’s Psalms gives us a unique and artistic one.
Original painter and set designer, throughout his career David Sharir has creatively combined painting and theater. Now everyone can enjoy the artist’s entire collection of interpretive paintings on the psalms, beautifully showcased in this stunning book. An intriguing blend of straightforward meaning and artistic exegesis, Sharir s paintings produce fascinating interpretations of the psalms in poignant scenes.
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