- From Akkadian ululu or elulu, meaning "the time when [the produce of the land] is brought in," i.e. "harvest time," from a verb meaning "to bring in" or "thrust in"
- "the sixth month"
- Called "Elul" in Nehemiah 6:15:
טו וַתִּשְׁלַם, הַחוֹמָה, בְּעֶשְׂרִים וַחֲמִשָּׁה, לֶאֱלוּל--לַחֲמִשִּׁים וּשְׁנַיִם, יוֹם. 15 So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days.
- A rabbinic tradition derives the source of the name Elul from part of a verse in Song of Songs (6:3):
"Ani L'Dodi v'Dodi Li," "I am my beloved and my beloved is mine." The first letter of each of these words in Hebrew spells "Elul." This is interpreted as describing the relationship between God and His people during this auspicious time preceding Rosh Hashanah.
ג אֲנִי לְדוֹדִי וְדוֹדִי לִי, הָרֹעֶה בַּשּׁוֹשַׁנִּים. 3 I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine, that feedeth among the lilies.'
- Another rabbinic tradition derives the source of the name Elul from part of a verse in Esther (9:22):
Ish L'Rei'eihu UMatanot L'Evyonim," "Sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor." The first letter of each of these words in Hebrew spells "Elul." The connection between this verse and the month of Elul is that we are supposed to increase our good deeds during this month. (I'm not a huge fan of this one, but since I just heard it for the first time this past Shabbat, I thought I would include it.)
- Because it precedes Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the month of Elul became connected to repentance.
- There is a custom of sounding the shofar daily during the month of Elul, as well as reciting Psalm 27.
- There is a Sephardic tradition of reciting selichot, or special penitential prayers, early every morning during entire the month of Elul. (Ashkenazi Jews recite selichot as well, but start only about a week before Rosh Hashanah.)
- Is it customary to begin or end all letters written during the month of Elul with wishes that the recipient have a good year. The standard blessing is "K'tiva V'Hatima Tova" ("A good writing and sealing [of judgement]"), meaning that the person should be written and sealed in the Book of Life for a good year.
- On the 25th of Elul, the Israelites rebuilt the destroyed walls of Jerusalem under the prophet Nehemiah's direction after they returned from the diaspora of Babylon (Nehemiah 6:15).
- Eylul is also the name for September in Turkish.
- Letter: yud (י)
- Zodiac sign: virgin
One explanation is that the virgin symbolizes G-d's beloved bride, Israel, the bride of the Song of Songs who says to her groom, "I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me." Another explanation that it is an allusion to the verse in Jeremiah 31:20: "Return, Maiden Israel! Return to these towns of yours!" (שׁוּבִי בְּתוּלַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, שֻׁבִי אֶל-עָרַיִךְ אֵלֶּה) and Elul is traditionally a time for teshuva, which is understood as repentance but literally means "return."
- Tribe: Gad (גּד)
- Sense: action
- Controlling organ/limb: left hand (Lefties, rejoice!)