The month of Elul, which began today, is the time most suited to t’shuva (repentance). It is a period of Divine favor, because it was at this time that Moshe went up Mount Sinai to receive the second Tablets of Law, after the sin of the Golden Calf.
The forty days that Moshe was on the mountain, beseeching G-d to forgive the Jewish People, includes the 30 days of Elul and the first 10 days of the month of Tishrei, which are known as the Ten Days of Repentance. This period of intense t’shuva climaxes on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, when forgiveness was granted.
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov teaches that the dominant theme of the month of Elul is “Tikun HaBrit” – the rectification of sexual sins, known as blemishes to the Covenant:
"For the forgiveness that Moshe won for the Jews was actually over transgressions to the Brit (the Covenant), for the sin of the Golden Calf was over sexual misconduct, as our Sages have taught us - the Jewish People only worshiped idols to provide an excuse for publicly engaging in sexual licentiousness. (Sanhedrin 63A; Rashi, Shemot, 32:6). This rectification of the Brit made this day, the Day of Atonement for all generations."
To help people in their t’shuva, and to give husbands and wives a chance to review the many laws dealing with marital relations, we are continuing to translate Rabbi Mordechai Eliahu’s codification of these laws. Readers are recommended to read over these chapters, which are the foundation of the Covenant between Hashem and the Jewish People.
Those who are interested in learning the deep secrets of Elul can find an essay on the theme on our jewishsexuality.com website. Included is a powerful prayer of rectification written by Rabbi Nachman’s foremost student, Rabbi Natan.
For everyone else, here is a partial checklist of transgressions to the Covenant to remind people of things we can all too easily forget during the course of the year:
Thou shall not look at pornographic sites on the Internet.
Thou shall not have a computer at home without a filter.
Thou shall not engage in sexual fantasies.
Thou shall not stray after your hearts and your eyes which lead you astray.
Thou shall not masturbate.
Thou shall not engage in pre-marital sex.
Thou shall not hug or kiss a woman whom you are not married to (except for your mother).
Thou shall not have sexual relations with a non-Jew.
Thou shall not engage in oral sex.
Thou shall not engage in homosexuality.
Thou shall not commit adultery.
Thou shall not covet another’s man’s wife.
Thou shall not think about another woman when having relations with your wife.
Thou shall not have marital relations with your wife (nor touch her) during her Niddah (menstruation period).
Thou shall not have marital relations in the daytime.
Thou shall not have marital relations by candlelight, moonlight, electric light, and the like.
Thou shall not have marital relations uncovered.
Thou shall not spill semen in vain – even when engaging in marital relations.
Thou shall not have marital relations in unnatural positions, other than what is known as the missionary position.
Thou shall not have marital relations using a method of contraception without first consulting an Orthodox rabbi.
Thou shall please one’s wife before pleasing oneself.
This is only a partial list. For a detailed review of the topic, please check out the link to Rabbi Eliahu’s compilation of the laws.