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What is this I hear about "The King is in the Field"?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein

  

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Question: 

I've read and heard a lot about this analogy that in the month of Elul the "King is in the field." Everyone seems quite impressed by this, but I'm a bit skeptical. Today, there are no Kings, and no fields, and that analogy is pretty meaningless. I'm also a bit confused about the idea of G-d somehow being more present than before, how could it be that something as basic as G-d's presence has "strong" times and not so strong times? I was wondering if you could explain this analogy to me, and how it applies to our lives today...

Answer:

Let's try a modern day example of this concept.

I spent this past Shabbat with Chassidic Reggae Star Matisyahu. He was at a college Chabad House and more than 100 students came over for Shabbat dinner so that they could meet him. He didn't perform, he didn't sing, he wasn’t in “all his glory”. But he was "accessible" and that is why the students came; they wanted "access" to him.

Matisyahu doesn't hide, as a matter of fact he makes a living by means of public performances; but ordinarily if you want to see him you have to pay for tickets, wait on line, and even then you will only get to see him from a distance.

It is easy for Him to see us from on high, but it is difficult for us to approach that stage.
This Shabbat the students did not have to pay and they didn’t have to wait. They didn't have to yell like desperate fans from the crowd hoping that perhaps he would hear a word or two of what they had to say. This Shabbat they were invited to walk right up to him, receive his undivided attention, and say whatever they wanted.

It didn't matter who they were or where they came from. There was no security and you didn't need backstage privileges.

Matisyahu has a song called "King Without a Crown". Well this Shabbat Matisyahu was a great analogy for "King Without a Palace", or more appropriately "King in the Field".

G-d is indeed always present; but G-d is also beyond our reach, because our physical bodies and material lifestyles distance us from G-dly experiences. It is easy for Him to see us from on high, but it is difficult for us to approach that stage. If we want to experience G-dliness we need to undertake numerous strenuous tasks in order to access spirituality.

In Elul, however, G-d makes Himself accessible for all. It is as if He is walking amongst the crowd. It doesn’t matter if you "paid for a ticket" or "waited online". Even if your track record of behavior has not been up to par, even if your actions do not make you deserving of an audience with G-d, G-d grants it to you anyway.

There is one catch: although spirituality and G-dliness is more attainable and tangible in this month, you still need to approach it. So take advantage of this opportunity. Speak to G-d with an open heart during this month, take an extra moment to connect with Him through His commandments; there are no security guards to check your spiritual ID, and there are no ushers to examine your ticket of good deeds; all ordinary procedures are set aside.

And that's what makes this month extraordinary.


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Holidays » Rosh Hashanah » A Month of Preparation

Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Chabad
Chabad, an acronym for Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding, is the name of a Chassidic Group founded in the 1770s. Two of the most fundamental teachings of Chabad are the intellectual pursuit of understanding the divine and the willingness to help every Jew who has a spiritual or material need.
Chassidic
(Pl.: Chassidim; Adj.: Chassidic) A follower of the teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of "Chassidut." Chassidut emphasizes serving G-d with sincerity and joy, and the importance of connecting to a Rebbe (saintly mentor).
Elul
The 6th month on the Jewish calendar, normally corresponding to August-September. This is the month which precedes Tishrei, the month of the High Holidays, and is a month of introspection and repentance.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.