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6th of Elul: The Wool of Elul

The Wool of Elul

There are four new years: the first of Elul is the new year for animals.[1] Sheep conceive in Nisan and give birth in Elul, and so it is fitting that their New Year is on the first of Elul.[2]

Sheep enrich their owners.[3] Wool is the most valuable part of a sheep, from which the priestly garments were woven.[4] The first sheared wool that every Jew must give to the priest,[5] whether in or out of Israel, with or without a Temple, applies only to sheep, but not to sacrificial animals.[6]

I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse.[7]

Wool represents Abel’s sacrifice; linen or flax seeds, from Cain:[8] the law of shatnes forbids them to mingle.[9] Seeing that both wicked and good developed out of the same root is proof we have but One Creator.[10]

One bathes and cuts their hair on the eve of Rosh Hashanah.[11]

On Rosh Hashanah all those who have come into the world pass before You like sheep.[12] As a shepherd herds their flock, directing their sheep to pass under their staff, so too shall You pass, count and record the souls of all living, and decree a limit to each person’s days, and inscribe their living judgment.[13]

God is my shepherd; I shall not want. God makes me lie down in green pastures… Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.[14]

Choose life![15]

Nathan Alfred LBC 2008 Vilnius and Jerusalem

[1] mRosh Hashanah 1.1 [2] bRosh Hashanah 8a [3] bChullin 84b [4] bChullin 137a [5] Deuteronomy 18.4 [6] mChullin 11.1 [7] Deuteronomy 30.19 [8] Midrash Tanhuma Bereishit 9.1 [9] Leviticus 19.19 & Deuteronomy 22.11 [10] Rabbeinu Bahya, Bereshit 4.2 [11] Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayim 581 [12] mRosh Hashanah 1.2 [13] Unetaneh Tokef prayer [14] Psalm 23.1-2,4 [15] Deuteronomy 30.19


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