Elul is a time for seriousness. Here in Israel things have been very serious lately. Those that sat in bomb shelters and those that fought the enemy have had a lot of time to think. Even those that were not personally affected by the war have no doubt done some serious thinking and soul searching lately.
I thought that I would start the month with a joke I just heard. A young student arrived at one of the “mussar” yeshivot (Rabbinic Academies) in Europe during the month of Elul. These Yeshivot put a great emphasis on eliminating bad character traits, such as hautiness. He entered the Beit Midrash (Study Hall). He saw a student learning one of the books of ethics and quietly repeating to himself, “Ich bin a gournisht, Ich bin a gournisht!” (I am a nothing). He sees another student sitting with his head in his hands saying, “I am a worm and not a man.” Yet another student is standing by the window saying, “I am dust and ashes.”
The next day the new yeshiva student sat down in the Beit Midrash and started saying to himself, “I am a nothing, I am a nothing!” One of the older students heard him and rebuked him, “You are a Ba’al Ga’avah (a haughty person)! You’ve only been here for a day, and you already think that you are a nothing?