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Thursday, August 30, 2018

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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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 55</ br> Chapter 56 </ br> Chapter 57

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

Adam, the first human being, opened his eyes to a world that appeared to have always been. He lifted his eyes to the vast sky above. He gazed about at the bustling life. He beheld mighty mountains and majestic waterfalls, flowing rivers and verdant forests.

And he cried out, “This is not a sky! This is the vast glory of my Maker!
This is not a mountain, or a waterfall, a tiger or an ant—
—this is all the majesty of an Infinite Being, who created a world out of kindness and might, beauty and wonder, glory and majesty, so that His creatures might know Him!
I know what this is! This is not just a jungle! This is the garden of a great and magnificent King!”

That is why Rosh Hashanah is called the first day of creation, for only then did the world know it had meaning.

And on each Rosh Hashanah we replay that scene, we discover meaning in our world, and the world is born again.

Maamar Zeh Hayom, 5742.