When we recited the blessing for the new month of Elul last Shabbat we asked G-d for many blessings:
May it be Your will Hashem, our G-d and the G-d of our forefathers, that You inaugurate this month upon us for goodness and for blessing. May You give us long life – a life of peace, a life of goodness, a life of blessing, a life of sustenance, a life of physical health, a life in which there is fear of heaven and fear of sin, a life in which there is no shame nor humiliation, a life of wealth and honor, a life in which we will have love of Torah and fear of heaven, a life in which our heartfelt requests will be fulfilled for the good. Amen.
Quite a list of requests!
We then prayed to the Almighty that just as He redeemed us from Egypt so ask that He redeem us again and gather all the exiles from the “four corners of the world” for the final redemption. This last prayer ends with a curious statement: Kol Yisrael Chaverim, literally translated as, All Jews are friends. Aside from the apparent questionable (unfortunately) accuracy of this statement, why is this statement included in a prayer for redemption?
One of the commentaries on the siddur, the Dover Shalom, offers the following explanation: The final redemption will come in stages. First, the Almighty will rescue us from persecution. Then He will gather all the exiles together. But before He will bring us to the Land of Israel and to Jerusalem, we must all, every single one of us – every Jew – must first become friends with every other Jew. We must genuinely unite in friendship and caring one for the other. Only then will we merit the final redemption.
The pandemic has stressed each of us individually, as families, and as a community. The challenges presented by Covid-19 have been diverse and significant. No one has been untouched by the unique and difficult issues in the Corona virus world in which we find ourselves. And as a result, we have, at times, allowed our stresses to be exported to others via the tone, pitch, and intensity of our speech.
Elul affords us a special opportunity to stop and reflect; to re-calibrate and improve our discourse and behavior; to consider the challenges faced by others and to express ourselves in word and deed with understanding, compassion and respect.
Let us not waste this Elul. Let’s work on fulfilling Kol Yisrael Chaverim.