The King Is In The Field

Posted on August 31, 2023

By Hazzan Jacob Sandler

This Thursday we’re in the thick of it preparing for the High Holidays, and halfway through the month of Elul. Elul has always been my favorite month of the Jewish calendar – well, ever since I learned the following teaching: “The King is in the field.” This became a mantra in some ways, and a call to action in other ways. Of course God is always near to us, but it doesn’t always feel that way. In Elul, The King is in the field — not in the palace in the heart of a capital city. To visit a king in the palace requires great effort. One should dress their best, and behave extra carefully. They have to jump through the hoops of bureaucracy to even get an audience, and travel however far, use however many vacation days to make the journey to the King. In Elul, this is not so. In Elul the King, that is HaShem, comes down to the field – to the place where we are toiling through our work as usual. We can show up as we are, flawed and busy and flustered in the throes of earning our daily bread. Yet the King greets us all with a smile. There is no expectation to run home and change, or straighten up or even cease our work. Just like in Elul, it’s not a holy day, it’s business as usual — but it’s still a holy time, doing holy work in lockstep with our mundane tasks.

We have to hold the physical and spiritual, each in one hand simultaneously. And as I understand it, anything that can go right, will go right if we are working ot be our best selves. HaShem will bless our efforts, and support us in our teshuva. We should make great use of the time when the Shofar is blown, and reflect, repent, reconnect and renew. When it comes to making a change in the world, we can only really control ourselves. In this time, we can tap into a deep spiritual energy and make the change, begin the process. And take this headstart into the coming year. I encourage you to be on the lookout for the littlest miracles, the tiniest blessings. When something works out in your favor — short term or perhaps in the long term, remember: “The King is In The Field.” An early Shanah Tovah, and may we continue to see blessings abound through the year ahead.