Search
  • rabbinathan

The Wool of Elul


There are four new years: the first of Elul is the new year for animals.[1] Sheep conceive in Nisan and give birth in Elul, and so it is fitting that their New Year is on the first of Elul.[2]


Sheep enrich their owners.[3] Wool is the most valuable part of a sheep, from which the priestly garments were woven.[4] The first sheared wool that every Jew must give to the priest,[5] whether in or out of Israel, with or without a Temple, applies only to sheep, but not to sacrificial animals.[6]


I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse.[7]


Wool represents Abel’s sacrifice; linen or flax seeds, from Cain:[8] the law of shatnes forbids them to mingle.[9] Seeing that both wicked and good developed out of the same root is proof we have but One Creator.[10]


One bathes and cuts their hair on the eve of Rosh Hashanah.[11]


On Rosh Hashanah all those who have come into the world pass before You like sheep.[12] As a shepherd herds their flock, directing their sheep to pass under their staff, so too shall You pass, count and record the souls of all living, and decree a limit to each person’s days, and inscribe their living judgment.[13]


God is my shepherd; I shall not want. God makes me lie down in green pastures… Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.[14]


Choose life![15]

[1] mRosh Hashanah 1.1 [2] bRosh Hashanah 8a [3] bChullin 84b [4] bChullin 137a [5] Deuteronomy 18.4 [6] mChullin 11.1 [7] Deuteronomy 30.19 [8] Midrash Tanhuma Bereishit 9.1 [9] Leviticus 19.19 & Deuteronomy 22.11 [10] Rabbeinu Bahya, Bereshit 4.2 [11] Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayim 581 [12] mRosh Hashanah 1.2 [13] Unetaneh Tokef prayer [14] Psalm 23.1-2,4 [15] Deuteronomy 30.19

1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

The days of Elul are falling away and Rosh Hashanah will soon be upon us. On the streets of Jerusalem the pomegranates redden on the trees. The playgrounds empty and quieten as the new school year beg

I grew up in a poor family; we owned few treasured possessions beyond our books. Every wall was covered with them, the accumulation of dusty tomes being a life’s long work. It had been my father’s dre