Elul: Days of Good Will
Although the first tablets were also given in an ambience of Divine Grace (cf. Rashi Devarim 9:18 who describes this period as days of goodwill), Hashem’s goodwill at that time came not so much in response to Israel’s petition to draw close to him but rather as a unilateral grant of favor to His beloved people. That first Elul, however, having betrayed Hashem’s expectations for them through their involvement with the Golden Calf, Israel now had to traverse the long road back on its own initiative and to re-earn Hashem’s grace on the strength of its own merits. By heeding Moshe’s earnest prayers and accepting the people’s heartfelt repentance, Hashem made a clear commitment never to spurn our initiatives to return to Him. Thus the liturgist describes Hashem as The One Who becomes favorable through compassion and becomes appeased through supplications, perhaps a reference to the first Elul, when Hashem accepted Israel’s initiative and showed the Jewish people how to find a path back to Him in all future Eluls.
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