On the early morning of the 1st of Elul of the year 2448 Moshe Rabbeinu ascended Mount Sinai, taking with him the stone tablets he had hewn by divine command. Each stone was made as a cube measuring 6x6x3 tefachim (a tefach, “handbreadth”, is approximately 3.2 inches). They were intended to replace the two divinely-made tablets, on which G-d had inscribed the Ten Commandments, which Moses had smashed 42 days earlier, on the 17th of Tammuz.
Moshe remained on the mountain for 40 days. On the 10th of Tishrei (Yom Kippur) he came down to the Jewish people bringing the Second Tablets (“Luchot Ha-Shniyot”). During his stay on the mountain He obtained G-d’s whole-hearted forgiveness and reconciliation with the people of Israel following the incident with the Golden Calf.
This was the third of Moses’ three 40-day periods on Mount Sinai in connection with the Giving of the Torah. Ever since, the month of Elul serves as the “month of Divine mercy and forgiveness.”
How do we know Rosh Hashanah is coming?
• There are so many customs that give us a hint! Here’s one of them: according to the Baal Shem Tov, it’s customary to recite three additional chapters of Psalms each day, from the 1st of Elul until Yom Kippur. For a complete selection of chapters for each day, check out the new podcast – “Tehilim for the Month of Elul”.
• Beginning from the Rosh Chodesh, the psalm L’David Hashem Ori (Tehillim, chapter 27) is recited at the end of the morning and afternoon prayers. This special addition is recited throughout the month of Elul and the High Holiday season, until Hoshanah Rabbah (Tishrei 21).
• The shofar horn is blown throughout the month of Elul (except for the last day of the month). Its sound is intended to “wake” up the souls, as said in the book of Amos:
“Can a shofar be blown in the city and the people not tremble?” (Amos, 3:6).