We are at the beginning of the eve of Shabbos Mevorchim Elul, the Shabbos on which the month of Elul is blessed. Elul is a month of general significance, a month where one takes stock of one's service throughout the previous year and prepares for the coming year, É"ÖÜ, which will be a year of miracles.
The name Elul serves as an acronym for the Hebrew words Ani Ledodi V'dodi Li -- "I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine." This verse implies that the first stage is service on the part of the Jews -- "I am my Beloved's." This awakens a response -- "My Beloved is mine" from G-d. The increases one makes in the service of "I am my Beloved's" will cause even greater increases in "My Beloved is mine" for the awakening from above reflects the awakening from below. Accordingly, it is proper to use Shabbos Mevorchim (and the hours preceding it) in the most fruitful way possible.
This is particularly true since it is past the 15th of Av when it is appropriate to begin an increase in Torah study which brings about an increase in life, i.e. a Jew's entire service (not one aspect of his Torah study or performance of mitzvos, but rather his service as a whole) is increased.
Added importance comes because in the coming year, Rosh HaShanah falls on Shabbos. Shabbos is connected with the World to Come, "the era which is only Shabbos and rest forever." In particular, a point of connection to the Messianic Age can be seen in the present Shabbos, Parshas Re'eh whose Torah reading begins, "See that I am giving you." This alludes to the Messianic Age when Torah will be studied through sight, "Your eyes will behold your Teacher."
The above is particularly true since the gathering will be concluded by distributing money to be given to tzedakah -- each person acting as a shliach and also adding from his own funds -- in a manner of "Tzion will be redeemed through judgment and those who return to her through tzedakah," bringing closer the Messianic redemption.
- (Back to text) The first day of Rosh HaShanah is Shabbos. The first day is most important since when Mashiach comes -- and surely he will come before Rosh HaShanah -- the first day will be celebrated as stated in the Torah. It is questionable, however, if the second day, instituted as a Rabbinic decree, will be celebrated in that era.