Yitzchak Ginsburgh
Head of Gal Einai Institutes, authority on Kabbalah and Chassidut

Elul: The Shining Countenance of Love

When we calculate the full value of the phrase, “I am to my Beloved and my Beloved is to me”/”Ani ledodi v’dodi li”, it equals 185. 185 is half of 370. In Kabbalah, the number 370 is a very important number. It is the number of lights that shine from the countenance of the Supreme King. Those lights manifest in this month.

Love is expressed in the eyes. It is also expressed in embrace. But when love is based on wisdom and self-nullification, when it is not self-centered but rather, focused on the beloved, the cheeks of the face radiate light. That is the experience of the month of Elul. Seeing that love Above, and also subjectively, seeing that within myself and beginning to shine the radiance of my own countenance, my outward-focused love, to my Beloved.

Each cheek has 185 lights. Together, the two cheeks have 370 lights. Each cheek is “I am to my Beloved and my Beloved is to me”. The first two letters of Elul, alef and lamed, when written in full in Hebrew, equal 185, the same numerical value as “Ani l’dodi v’dodi li /“I am to my Beloved and my Beloved is to me”, half of 370.

In this month of Elul, we can work on self- nullification. Instead of self-centered love, this is the time to focus our love outward, toward our Beloved. May each of our cheeks shine with those 185 lights of love toward G-d and toward those we hold dear, for a good and sweet new year!

About the Author
Rabbi Ginsburgh was born in S. Louis, Missouri in 1944. He initially pursued an academic career in mathematics and philosophy, later studying Torah under the guidance of several great sages–most notably, the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Rabbi Ginsburgh made Aliyah to Israel in 1965. His familiarity with mathematics, science, philosophy, psychology and music has enabled him to lecture throughout Israel, relating the ancient wisdom of Torah to many currents trends in academic thought and art.
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