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Shabbat, September 23, 2017

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Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Rebbetzin Devorah Leah, daughter of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi and mother of Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch (the "Tzemach Tzedek"), passed away on this date just three days after her young son's third birthday. Click here to read more about this.

Laws and Customs

The 10-day period beginning on Rosh Hashanah and ending on Yom Kippur is known as the "Ten Days of Repentance"; this is the period, say the sages, of which the prophet speaks when he proclaims (Isaiah 55:6) "Seek G-d when He is to be found; call on Him when He is near." It is thus a most auspicious time to rectify the failings and missed opportunities of the past and positively influence the coming year. Psalm 130 and other special inserts and additions are included in our daily prayers during these days.

The Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is called Shabbat Shuvah, "Shabbat of Return." The name derives from the Haftarah (reading from the prophets) for this Shabbat, which opens with the words (Hosea 14:2), "Return O Israel unto the L-rd your G-d..." According to master Kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria ("Ari"), the seven days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (which will always include one Sunday, one Monday, etc.) correspond to the seven days of the week. The Sunday between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur includes within itself all Sundays of the year; the Monday embodies all Mondays, and so on. Shabbat Shuvah is thus the archetypal Shabbat -- the juncture in time at which we are empowered to influence every Shabbat of our year.

Links: About the Ten Days of teshuvah; Voicemail; more on teshuvah

Daily Thought

Every year, our sages taught, with the cry of the shofar the entire universe is reborn.

And so, at that time, with our resolutions and our prayers, we hold an awesome power: To determine what sort of child this newborn year shall be—how it will take its first breaths, how it will struggle to its feet and how it will carry us through life for the twelve months to come.

In truth, it is not only once a year: At every new moon, in a smaller way, all life is renewed again.

And so too, every morning, we are all reborn from a nighttime taste of death.

And at every moment—in the smallest increment of time—every particle of the universe is projected into being out of absolute nothingness, as it was at the very beginning.

Which is why there is always hope. Because at every moment, life is born anew. And we are the masters of how this moment will be born.