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Thursday, August 19, 2021

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

In 1522, Rabbi Yosef Caro started writing the Beit Yosef, his famous commentary on the Arba Turim, Yaakov Ben Asher’s comprehensive Halachic code. He started writing this commentary in Adrianople, Turkey, and continued for the next twenty years, during which time he relocated to Safed, Israel. He completed the monumental work on the 11th of Elul. It took another ten years for the writings to be published.

Marriage of the fifth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, Rabbi Sholom DovBer Schneersohn ("Rashab", 1860-1920), to Rebbetzin Shterna Sarah Schneerson (1860-1942).

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 31 Chapter 32 Chapter 33

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

“He accosted her in the outdoors. The maiden cried out, but no one was there to save her.”—Deuteronomy 22:27

Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch explained:

The maiden is the divine soul, the G‑d point within each of us.

Who is this man that accosts that divine soul in the outdoors?

It is Esau, “a man of the outdoors,” a wild man. It is the wild beast within each of us.

Raped and abused by that inner beast, captured by its brute force, the soul cries and screams for rescue.

And no one is there to save her.

No one? But isn’t G‑d there? Doesn’t He hear?

Yes, G‑d hears. G‑d as He is beyond all understanding. G‑d as He is the ultimate unknown—a “no one.” There, her cry is heard.

Because the lower a soul has fallen, the deeper her cry is heard on high.

As the desperate screams of a captive fair maiden stir her hero to rescue her at any risk, so the cries of the soul from her captivity within the body reach to the core of the Infinite Above.

Out of Nothingness, anything could happen.

Maamar Lecha Dodi 5714.