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Monday, September 4, 2017

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Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Marriage of the 6th Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn (1880-1950), to Rebbetzin Nechamah Dinah (1882-1971).

Elul 13 is the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Yosef Chaim of Baghdad (1835-1909), the renowned Sephardic Halachic authority and Kabbalist, known as "Ben Ish Chai" after his work by that name.

Links:

The Ben Ish Chai, A Biography
The Ultimate Employee (from the teachings of the Ben Ish Chai)

Laws and Customs

As the last month of the Jewish year, Elul is traditionaly a time of introspection and stocktaking -- a time to review one's deeds and spiritual progress over the past year and prepare for the upcoming "Days of Awe" of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur.

As the month of Divine Mercy and Forgiveness (see "Today in Jewish History" for Elul 1) it is a most opportune time for teshuvah ("return" to G-d), prayer, charity, and increased Ahavat Yisrael (love for a fellow Jew) in the quest for self-improvement and coming closer to G-d. Chassidic master Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi likens the month of Elul to a time when "the king is in the field" and, in contrast to when he is in the royal palace, "everyone who so desires is permitted to meet him, and he receives them all with a cheerful countenance and shows a smiling face to them all."

Specific Elul customs include the daily sounding of the shofar (ram's horn) as a call to repentance. The Baal Shem Tov instituted the custom of reciting three additional chapters of Psalms each day, from the 1st of Elul until Yom Kippur (on Yom Kippur the remaining 36 chapters are recited, thereby completing the entire book of Psalms). Click below to view today's Psalms.

Chapter 37 Chapter 38 Chapter 39

Elul is also the time to have one's tefillin and mezuzot checked by an accredited scribe to ensure that they are in good condition and fit for use.

Links: More on Elul

Daily Thought

True, our hearts are not in our hands. But our minds are: We can think about whatever we decide to think about. And therein lies our power.

The mind rules over the heart—not just as a rider rules over his horse, but in a much more intimate sense. For the mind is the father and the mother, the seed and the womb from which the attitudes of a person are born and then nurtured. The heart does no more than reflect the state of the mind—its turmoil, its resolution, its shallowness or its depth, its coarseness or its maturity.

This then must be the focus of the person who wishes to leave this world with more than he arrived: To engage his mind with all its intensity in thoughts that elevate and inspire, and push away with equal force any thought that drags down and holds back.

And to allow all that labor to pass through the channel from the mind to the heart and give birth to actual deeds.