So what should we do? The month of Elul starts today. On Saturday night, slichot in the Sephardic community (special Elul prayers) begin.
Perhaps Elul should signal a new direction for us to take, especially for this coming year. Since the beginning of the corona crisis so much energy has been expended in a critique of people and events outside of ourselves -- Netanyahu, Gantz, Professor Gamzu, Professor Lass, the press, the demonstrators on Balfour Street outside the prime minister's residence, social media, everything external to ourselves. But instead of looking outside for what needs correction, Elul calls upon us to look in two other directions -- inside and above.
Inside: Elul is about self-improvement. We should first examine and judge ourselves before doing that to others. We should check what is going on inside our own homes before preaching to the world about what should be done out there. The principal text of Yom Kippur is "we have been guilty, we have betrayed." It's not about what they did that is not okay, but rather about what we did.
Above: Through prayer and fervent hope and humble request we ask that the new year be beautiful and different. It appears that we will not be able to gather together by the thousands at the Kotel but we can still shout towards heaven, each in his own place, pleading to remove this pandemic and to improve the physical, emotional, and financial health of the entire world. It seems to me that we never said "shana tova" with such heartfelt intent as we are doing now.
Translation by Yehoshua Siskin