Seasons of the Moon When Christopher Columbus set sail for the New World in 1492, many people thought he would fall off the edge of the earth and vanish into oblivion. The cosmography of the fifteenth century held that the world was a flat disc. Nowadays, this idea seems childish. however, in one respect, they were right: the physical world has an end.

There is a place where this reality ends and another begins.

The essence of this physical world is that it can exist only within the confines of space and time. In the worlds above this world, there is no space, no time. They are spiritual worlds. Between this existence and its neighbors, however, there exists a place of transition, a border. Where is the border between this world and the next? Where is this gateway to eternity?

in the First Beit haMikdash (holy Temple), in the middle of the holy of holies, there sat the Aron Kodesh - the holy Ark. There's an amazing fact about the Aron. It took up no space. Even though it had physical dimension, nevertheless it occupied no space.

If you went into the holy of holies and measured from one wall to the Aron, and then you measured from the other side of the Aron to the far wall, those two measurements combined would be the same as the distance from one wall to the other. In other words, the distance between the two walls of the holy of holies was the same whether you measured from the walls to the sides of the Aron or whether you measured its entire width.

How was this possible? how was it possible for the Aron to have measurements and yet occupy no space in this world?

Imagine you're driving from France to italy. Twenty kilometers from the border you see signs in French announcing the approaching italian border. Closer, you notice that the French signs have now been joined by the same signs written in italian: "Douanes/Dogana" - Customs. On the other side of the border, you notice the reverse. At first the signs are in both languages; then after some kilometers they are written only in italian.

Wherever there is a border between two entities, we can expect to see elements of both. The Aron was the border of two worlds. It sat on the Even Shetiya, the rock from which God extruded the entire universe. This was the "border post" between two worlds; thus the characteristics of both this world and the next were manifest. The Aron occupied no space because it rested on the Even Shetiya, the stone from which this physical world was extruded, the gateway to beyond space. On the other hand, from the place of the Aron flows all creation, all space and time. This is the place where the physical world begins; thus, it had dimensions. The Aron was in this world, but it was not of this world; it had dimensions without occupying space.

There's a little letter in hebrew that's like the Aron. From it, too, flows all of creation. The letter yud. The yud is the smallest letter in the hebrew language. It's no more than a dot. But with this little yud, this little dot, God created the Future World.

The letter yud exists in this world - you can read it in any book - but it represents a world beyond this world. The physical shape of the yud hints at this dichotomy. Really, the yud should have no expansion, neither up nor down. however, when we write a yud, we are constrained by the laws of this world; we have to give it dimension or it would be invisible. Yet what the yud represents is a world beyond this one where there is no space and no time. It is a notion without dimension. It is the world of the yud. The Future World.

In the mystical sources, each month is connected to a letter. The month of Elul is represented by the letter yud. Yud, then, must express the essence of the month. In this smallest of letters, we will find the secret power that is locked into the month of Elul. Let us examine this "dot matrix."

Not only is the yud an otherworldly letter, it is also the foundation of all other letters. In order to write any letter, you have to start with a little dot, a little dot called yud. Thus, the foundation of all language, of all cognition, is the yud, the smallest dot.

Our thoughts align with reality only when we realize why, and on what, this world is founded. Just as the root of language is an infinitesimal dot which stands at the gateway between this world of space/time and the world which is beyond those constraints, so too the root of all knowledge, its foundation, is to know that there is a world above this world. When our thoughts turn toward that infinitesimal point, we align ourselves with transcendence.

Elul in Aramaic means "searching." We only search for something when we see a future for it. No one searches for a lost cause, a broken camera, or a used Coca-Cola can. The essence of searching, of Elul, is that we believe in two futures: our own future and that there is a future. Firstly, we must believe in our own future. We must believe that we are not forever rat-trapped in a Skinner's maze of our own past mistakes. We must believe that we can remake ourselves. Secondly, we must believe that there is a future: a Future World where all is clear and the darkness that surrounds us is lit up by the great aura of the presence of the holy One. A Jew must know that this world is no more than a dark and narrow corridor to a great palace of light.

Given this, it will not come as a surprise that in hebrew the letter yud is used as a prefix to create the future tense. The yud is the letter of the future. The letter of the Future World. Elul is the month of the future. The month where our minds are preoccupied with the anticipation of Rosh haShana, that great and awesome day when the Creator scrutinizes every minute part of his creation, seeing if it corresponds to his intentions and judging it accordingly.

The essence of Elul is wanting to go back - back to the Future - to connect to that Reality which is beyond this world, beyond space and time, to remake ourselves in the mold of the maiden, the sign of the month of Elul.

you said you don't believe
in a world to come,
that we ended like so much meat.
"Prove it to me," you said to me!
"Prove that you're my brother!" i replied. Inside, that same knowing heart
that shares our flesh
wipes the sleep from its eyes
and stirs.
unquiet is the soul.

More articles available at Ohr Somayach's website.