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Tuesday, 9 Elul, 5781

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Nachmanides (Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman, 1194-1270) arrived in Jerusalem, after being forced to flee his native Spain (see "On This Date" for Av 12) and renewed its Jewish community there. The synagogue he established is functional today, having been restored following the liberation of the Old City during the Six-Day War in 1967.

Dan, the son of Jacob and Bilhah, fifth of the Twelve Tribes, was born on 9 Elul in Haran. He lived to the age of 125. (Yalkut Shimoni, Shemot, remez 162)

Link: The Collectors

R. Tzadok HaKohen of Lublin was one of the most famous chassidic leaders in the second half of the nineteenth century. An original thinker and prolific author, his many works span the gamut of Jewish literature and beyond, addressing topics as diverse as Jewish law, mysticism, chassidic thought, biblical interpretation, and even a collection of scholarly interpretations revealed to him in dreams.

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 25 Chapter 26 Chapter 27

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

When you build a new house, you must make a fence for your roof…so the one who falls doesn’t fall from there. (Deut. 22:8)

Note that the fence is not for the house’s roof, but for your own roof. Meaning: Around your own greatness. (The Maggid of Mezritch)

Sometimes you might build a beautiful new structure. A palace of creative ideas couched in original words that intrigue, amaze and dazzle their beholder.

You did good. You should feel proud you did good. But you need a guard rail to limit that pride.

Because pride is a high place, and the human ego comes with a long history of falling from high places. The human ego is “the one who falls.”

Originally, it fell from the World of Tohu, a non-physical world that precedes our own space-time.

Tohu was a world of ultimates, where nothing left room for anything else but its own perfection.

And so, that world fell, and out of that fall emerged the ego.

That is why an untethered ego will fly as high as it can imagine and then some, leaving no room for any other ego in the world. And from there it will fall with a great, messy crash.

Rather than taking a fall, build a fence around your ego. Remind yourself that, yes, I did good, but who gave me the talents to do good? Did I create myself?

And what about my friends who helped me along the way? Can I truly do anything good by myself?

Keep your ego close to the earth. You’ll fall less often.

Ohr Torah, 176.