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Monday, September 9, 2019

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

...the betrothed maiden screamed out, but there was no one to save her.

—Deuteronomy 22:27

He does not want to be in that place. He feels himself a captive of his own desires, now a prisoner incapable of escape. Deep within him a voice screams—the scream of an innocent maiden under assault, yet hopeless that anyone can save her.

On occasion, he breaks free of the clutches of his captor, perhaps for a day, a week, maybe even an entire year—and then he is back again, and all seems futile.

It is never futile. The One who made him knows the struggle he fights. That brief victory, as fleeting as it may have been, is more precious to his Creator than the deeds of the most righteous. A precious soul has returned to Him, if even for a moment. And she returned because the soul, at her essence, is only good.

If only he would know that delight of his Creator, nothing could stop him. He would overcome all bounds and never fall back again. Because his Creator’s delight would become his delight, and the two would bond in an inseparable bond.

For in truth, they were always so bonded, only now it is no longer from afar.

Maamar Ani L’dodi 5726.