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Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Elul 16 is the yahrzeit (day of passing) of the world-famous Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal.

Links: Two Candles for Sammy, The Other Side of the Prayerbook

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 46 Chapter 47 Chapter 48

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

G‑d will cause you to return to Egypt in galleys, by a route which I told you you should not see again. There you shall offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male-servants and maid-servants, but no one will buy.

There are no curses in Torah, only blessings and hidden blessings. And the greatest of blessings are the hidden blessings.

There are no futile routes in this world, just shorter routes and longer routes. And the longer routes lead to the highest places.

There are no irreversible mistakes in life, none at all.

Because even if you will reverse all the good G‑d has done for you and attempt to sell yourself to the slavery of this world, what will become of you?

Eventually you will discover you do not belong there. Eventually you will take all that you have gained from that distant place and return.

Because that is the meaning of all wrong turns in this world. They are nothing more than the One Above providing you a route to know Him better when you return.

That is the meaning of life. It all begins and ends with “G‑d will cause you to return.”

Likutei Sichot vol. 19, p. 238.