Elul, the sixth month of the Jewish calendar. It marks the beginning of our preparation for the High Holidays. We begin the process of repentance, or Teshuvah.

 

Rosh Chodesh Elul: Signifies the time when Moses went to Mount Sinai, in the Month of Sivan, and returned on the 17th of Tammuz, after 40 days and 40 nights, with the First Tablets (the Ten Commandments). When Moses observed the Jewish People sinning by creating and worshipping the Golden Calf, and participating in other sinful activities centered around the worship of that idol, he broke the first set of tablets.

He ascended Mount Sinai a second time, on the 18th of Tammuz, the day after the great sin, and remained there for another forty days and forty nights, praying to G-d to spare the Jewish People and to return His full Presence among them.

At the conclusion of the second forty days and forty nights (on the 29th of Av, the evening before Rosh Chodesh Elul), G-d forgave the Jewish People and instructed Moses to ascend Mount Sinai yet again the next day, to receive the Second Tablets, on which would be inscribed for the second time the Ten Commandments.  Moses’ ascension to Mount Sinai for the third time (which also took forty days and forty nights, ending on Yom Kippur) occurred on Rosh Chodesh Elul.

When Moses went up the Second Time to receive the Ten Commandments (Aseret HaDibrot), the Jewish People blew the Shofar in the Camp. They did this to impress upon themselves that Moses had once again gone up to Mount Sinai, so that they would not again make the tragic mistake in judging the time of Moses’ return, and fall again into Idol Worship. The Jewish People in later generations accepted upon themselves the custom of blowing the Shofar to remind themselves that the people of Israel in the desert had sinned with the Egel Maseikhah, had repented, had been forgiven by G-d and restored to their former level of holiness. This would arouse in their hearts and minds the importance and effectiveness of doing “Teshuvah”

Beginning the second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, and continuing until the evening before Rosh HaShanah, the custom is to blow the Shofar every weekday, excluding Shabbat.

The sounding of the Sofar:

1. Tekiah-a flat straight sound, “Tuuuu”

2. Shevarim-three broken sounds, resembling sighing, “U-Tu,     U-Tu, U-Tu”

3. Teruah-nine rapid sounds resembling wailing, “Tu, Tu, Tu,       Tu, Tu, Tu, Tu, Tu, Tu”

4. And a final Tekiah-a flat straight sound, “Tuuuu”