For Jews, this is a very intense time of year. From the start of the month of Elul through the end of the holiday of Sukkot we focus on repentance and self improvement. We use this time of year to recharge ourselves spiritually for the rest of the year. We increase intensity in our prayers and spend more time shedding the errors that cling to us from the previous year and prepare to go out and have an even better year to come.
But almost two months of this? Really?
Yup and here's why.
This time isn't just two months. It actually works out to (in Israel, where the lunar month holds sway and Sukkot is 8 days long) 51 days: the 29 of the month of Elul and the 22 from the 1st of Tishrei to the 22nd at the close of Shmini Atzeret. That 51 is close to one seventh of the 354 day lunar calendar. This period is a Sabbath for the year. It is the one out of seven which clears us up, helps us refocus ourselves and preps us for when we go back into the world. Our religious shift during this Sabbath mirrors the weekly pause that refreshes.
And outside Israel, where the lunar calendar is less prevalent than the solar, 365 day one? The extra day of Sukkot makes the time of repentance 52 days. Almost exactly one seventh of 365.
No matter where we are, let's experience this Sabbath of our souls, immerse ourselves in the spiritual rejuvenation and come out ready to take that uber-sabbath straight through the next "week."