Advice For Chodesh Elul
A few days prior to Rosh Chodesh Elul, I asked the Sudilkover Rebbe what additional practice I should take on for the month of Elul. The Rebbe mentioned that while there was a minhag from the Me'or Einayim to complete Sefer Tehillim on Shabbos morning before davening, perhaps I would consider following this practice each Shabbos in Elul through Hoshana Rabbah. He warned me in advance that this would mean that I would have to get up very early in the morning in order have a few hours needed to complete it.
When I expressed my willingness to take this on and waved off his words of caution, the Rebbe remarked that he had just reconsidered his advice and said that he was wrong to have suggested this to me since Hebrew was not my native language and that this practice might prove to be too much for me at this time.
The Rebbe then said that my avoda for Elul should involve focusing on the mitzvos bein adam l'chaveiro (between man and his fellow man). Although it may be my desire to take on a lofty spiritual practice during this auspicious time period, it is a much more lofty practice to be machmir in my dealings with other human beings.
To illustrate his point, the Rebbe told me this mashul that he heard from his father:
At times, two adults may get into an argument and start screaming at each other. If the argument escalates, they may even begin to hitting each other. Despite the fact that at the height of their dispute they may absolutely hate each other, there is always the possibility that they may later reconcile and peace will be restored between them.
If, however, one of these adults hits the other's child, there will never be mechila (forgiveness) or kapara (atonement).
The meaning of this mashul was obvious. There are severe consequences when we disregard the mitzvos that deal with our dealings with others. While Hashem can instantly forgive a person for what that person did against Him, He does not forgive a person when that person hurts one of His children.