HaRav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz
In his youth, while studying in Yeshivas Chevron in Elul 5699, HaRav Michel Yehuda Lefkowitz wrote a letter to a friend:
"The atmosphere of Elul is predominant in our yeshiva; the realization and feeling of the upcoming Yomim Noraim is tangible. These are days of mercy and proximity of Jewry to Hashem, in the spirit of `I am to my Beloved and my Beloved is to me.' This opportunity of drawing close of Hashem is offered to every single Jew and it behooves him to take advantage of it.
"This is especially during this difficult time when there is tension in the world and it is on the brink of war. Who hasn't heard about the previous war which all but destroyed the world, when thousands of families were plundered and destroyed? We haven't even had time to rest and recover from that war, and now we hear the harbinger of a new war in the offing.
"We must know, however, that the hearts of kings and ministers are in the hand of Hashem. The purpose here is that we reflect upon our situation and acknowledge that we have no one upon whom to rely except for our Father in Heaven. We must return to Him with all our heart and then, if war threatens, we can trust in Hashem. We must recognize that He is the A-mighty Who loves us and always helps us. He is the bulwark of our lives and this trust gives us the courage to accept the suffering of these circumstances.
"In this state of affairs, we must feel the public pain. We must work on concentrating our spiritual forces to be a partner with the pain and sorrow on the one hand, to feel the pain of our people, and foster our trust in Hashem and in His salvation on the other hand so that we not succumb to despair. We must know that whoever trusts in Hashem, will follow surely along the right path.
"We find ourselves on the brink of the new year but we must not forget our obligations during these days to plea for mercy and for the salvation of the public and the individual."