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Elul

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Aramaic Language

B. Ungar wrote:
Dear Rabbi,

We find that several acronyms are quoted from verses in reference to the month of Elul. For example, the first letters of the words "Ani L'dodi V'dodi Li - I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine" (Song of Songs 6:3) - spell "Elul" and are seen as a reference to the G-d's closeness to us during the month of Elul. But isn't "Elul" a Babylonian word? Is it authentic that verses in the Torah would be alluding to words that aren't Hebrew?


Dear B. Ungar,

A good point. The names of the Jewish months came into use when the exiled Jews of Babylon, who spoke Aramaic, returned to the Land of Israel in the time of Ezra. Previously the months had no names, but were referred to by number.

Nachmanides says these names are of Persian origin, but that doesn't preclude their also having Aramaic roots, as the Persian Empire succeeded the Babylonian Empire, and the language of Babylon was Aramaic.

So, how can the verses in the Hebrew Torah hint to Aramaic words? Actually, Aramaic is a sister language of Hebrew. According to the Kabbala it is actually a dialect of Hebrew. That is why most of the Oral Law is written in Aramaic, or in Mishnaic Hebrew which is a mixture of Aramaic and Biblical Hebrew.

The word Elul means "search," because during the month of Elul we search our hearts for evil and repent in preparation for Rosh Hashana.

Sources:

  • Nachmanides Commentary to the Torah Exodus 12:2
  • Targum Onkelos Bamidbar 13:2


 
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