I think that preparing is the Eliyahu Hanavi of actions.
What do I mean by that? Or, phrased more precisely, to which attribute of Elijah do I refer when I thought of that metaphor?
I have in mind the story (or stories, there are too many to remember) in which a Rebbe tells his disciples that Elijah would show up in the coming day, The disciples wait and wait for the amazing moment. In fact, Elijah was the unimpressive fellow they ignored on their way to what they thought was their big meeting with the great angelic prophet. The deep moral of that genre is that often, almost always, the trip to “there” is what is important, not the “there”. Yes, there are many “Journey, destination” etc. cliche out there. I’ve heard the idea in all sorts of inspirational material, and it’s all true. In our case, Elul that is, it’s not that the destination is unimportant. Rather, the way I phrase it in my mind, the destination, Tishrei and its great Events, can only be as meaningful as the journey that gets us there. The reward, or the glory of Tishrei and all its gifts, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkos and Simchas Torah, is proportional to the Elul efforts put in. If you take a look at the word “kedusha” and its many facets, one of its meanings appears in the prelude to the great revelation at Har Sinai. Kidashtem. Simply translated, Hashem is telling Moshe to sanctify the Jews for the third day. But Rashi literally translates the word as “Prepare”. Prepare them for the third day. Prepare is a synonym of sanctify.
Anything that the Torah considers holy it invests with a special preparation time or preparatory act. One of the great mysteries of Kiddush on Friday night is the addition of the two words “Yom Hashishi” before “Vayuchulu”. Many have surmised that the words are added to add to Kiddush the significance of having the first letters of the first four words of Kiddush spell out the Holy Name. This is certainly a reason. But why bother adding this allusion when we are not exactly trying to find a needle in a haystack here. We are in the middle of a text that makes explicit mention of Hashem creating the world and sanctifying Shabbos. It’s not like Megilas Esther, where hints are required.
The significance is that Hashem’s name is made complete by adding the words Yom Hashishi, the Sixth Day, as in Erev Shabbos. The infusion of kedushas haSheim into Shabbos is accomplished only with the work of the Sixth Day.
So too, I would add, the infusion of kedusha into what the Torah calls the Seventh month, depends on the investments we make in the Sixth Month, Elul.