We are about to enter the month of Elul, the month before the New Year, the month in which, the ancient rabbis taught, God longs for closeness to us. We might think that the time in which we reflect on our misdeeds in the past year and hear the sound of the shofar calling us to change would be a time in which the divine aspect of judgement is highlighted. Instead, the rabbis argued that God looks upon our reflection and our attempts to turn our lives in a different direction with the greatest love. The mystic masters taught that this is the time when “the King is in the field” – when God waits for us to partner with the divine in bringing our own lives and the world closer to the vision of perfection contained in Torah. And the prophets heard God saying, “Return to Me and I will return to you” (Malachi 3:7 among others). Instead of judging ourselves harshly and berating ourselves for our misdeeds, may we use this month to open ourselves up to the loving embrace of God and of our fellow human beings, all of us striving together imperfectly to move ourselves just a little further down the path. And may all of our turning and returning be surrounded by love.