by Rabbi Sholom D. Avtzon
Once in middle of the month of Elul the Rebbe encountered Reb Pinny Althaus, a chossid who was extremely close to the Rebbe. The Rebbe mentioned to him, “From the expression on your face, it is not noticeable that you are experiencing “The King Is In The Field.”
The Rebbe was alluding to the famous Moshol (parable) of the Alter Rebbe.
With this moshol, the Alter Rebbe explains, how one should look at his/her relationship in this month of Elul. In general it is known as the month of preparation for the Yomim Noraim, (High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur). Therefore it is cause of serious reflection and yes trepidation, Hashem is going to judge us and we all are to well aware of our flaws and shortcomings.
However, through this moshol, the Alter Rebbe is enlightening us that one ne should look at this experience from an entire different perspective. During this month Hashem is closer to His nation, more so than any other time. It is a time of happiness, not one of bitterness.
But in truth, it is much more than this. It is not just an expression of a master who is happy with the work and conduct of his servant or a king who is pleased with his nation. It is a total different relationship. It is one of two dear friends.
The Alter Rebbe bases his revolutionary approach to Chodesh Elul on the possuk in Shir HaShirim that alludes to the month of Elul. The first letters of the four words in the possuk of לי ודודי לדודי אני spell out אלול = Elul. The meaning of these words is; “I am to my beloved friend and my beloved friend is to me
So we see the possuk itself indicates that at this time Hashem’s relationship to us is not as a master, a king, etc. to his worker or subject, but one of a wonderful, dear and indeed best friend.
And it is this feeling of closeness and friendship that every Jew senses, which propels them to do teshuva.
THE MOSHOL (PARABLE)
During the entire year, the king is in his palace. Most of his subjects in the capital city, know there is no possibility of them gaining an audience to see and speak to the king. Even from those who hope and apply for an audience, only a select few are actually allowed in. And there is no guarantee that the King would grant their request.
However, there is the time when the king is not in the capital city. He left it to go out in the field. When he is there, every one of his subjects (from the city as well as those who now live in the fields (or desert)) decide to go out to greet the king in the field.
The king, on his part, graciously receives everyone who comes to greet him, and shows a happy and radiant face to them and grants their request.
They then follow and escort him to the city and he enters his palace. But the moment the king enters the palace, once again only a select few could meet him. However, being that you went out to the field and demonstrated your loyal and total allegiance to Him, you are part of that select group.
UNDERSTANDING THE PARABLE (THE NIMSHAL)
During the entire year, Hashem is reachable through our fulfillment of His mitzvos and learning His Torah. However, if one distanced himself from Hashem, by not learning,
or doing His mitzvos, and especially, if one went against His will and did an aveira (sin), this person could feel how can I come close to Hashem?
His situation can be compared to the person who left the capital city and went into the fields or even further, into the woods or desert. When the person senses how far away he is, he might feel it is useless, he can no longer come to the king. He says we are totally disconnected.
So Hashem, in his great love to us goes out into the fields where these people are. He is stating emphatically; we are connected, no one is far! This show of His outpouring love to His subjects uplifts and encourages every one of them. Even those who through their actions felt they are distanced from Him, [and even those who intentionally rebelled against Him] are inspired to come to Him and declare their acceptance of Him as their king.
The king graciously receives them, smiles to them and grants their request, When the subjects see this, they resolve to once again conduct themselves in a manner befitting a loyal subject to the king. They escort him back to the capital and settle there once again. This turn around is so precious to the king, that he considers them amongst his most loyal and dedicated subjects, that they are granted an audience with the king in his throne room.
So too, in the month of Elul we correct our actions and commit ourselves to adhere to the Torah and its mitzvos. This causes that in the month of Tishrei, when Hashem is in the palace judging us; He shows His love to us and blesses the entire Jewish nation with all of their needs.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org The above is an excerpt of a booklet he wrote in Elul of 5768 (2008). If you want to receive the entire booklet feel free to contact him.
 This is analogous to those who are in the forest.
 In a maamar shabbos mevorchim Elul 5742 the Rebbe mentions that since they are in the field their requests are for physical and materialistic things.
This point is expounded in a different Sicha where the Rebbe explains the conversation between Eli the Cohen Godol and Chana. Eli argued that on this awesome day one should only request spiritual matters. He therefore chided her for requesting a personal request.
Chana responded, to the contrary. Hashems desire is that we elevate materialistic matters into spiritual ones. The material matters of a Jew are essentially spiritual.