The spiritual leader, teacher, halakhic codifier, and prayer-leader, Rabbi Jacob ben Moshe ha’Levi Molin, known as the Maharil, died 590 years ago this month, on 22 Elul. He spent most of his adult life in Mainz, Germany.
He taught, “All the month of Elul, before eating and sleeping, let all sit, look into their souls, and search their deeds that they may make confession.” Indeed, Elul offers us a full month of introspection and honest soul-appraisal in anticipation of the High Holy Days.
As the Maharil teaches, let us take Elul seriously, for it is a serious month and the Days of Awe are beyond serious; they are urgent.
If we show up next month, machzorim in hand, expecting merely to enjoy the series of services, well, we will have squandered an opportunity. But if we show up spiritually prepared, having investigated our ways and humbled ourselves, then teshuva – repentance – may really be possible as we enter 5778.
Rabbi Jeffrey Weill