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Tuesday, 23 Elul, 5781

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

On the 301st day of the great Flood, Noah sent a dove for the 2nd time from the ark (see "Today in Jewish History" for Elul 17). This time, the dove stayed away all day; "the dove came in to him in the evening, and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off; and Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth" (Genesis 8:11).

On a sunny fall morning, Islamic terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger airplanes. Two were crashed into the Twin Towers in lower Manhattan. A third was rammed into the Pentagon, the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the United States Department of Defense. The last plane was intended for Washington as well, but crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after its passengers tried to overcome the hijackers. In total, almost 3,000 people died in the attacks, including the 227 civilians and 19 hijackers aboard the four planes. It also was the deadliest incident for firefighters in the history of the United States.

Known as 9/11, the events of the day deeply affected the American approach to security and diplomacy, instigating the global War on Terror.

Link: Looking Back at Nine Eleven

R. Meir Shlomo Yanovsky was the rabbi of Nikolayev, in the Ukraine, from 1890 until his passing. His daughter Chana married R. Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, and their son was R. Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The Rebbe repeated a number of anecdotes about his grandfather (see link below), and he would say Kaddish on this date in his memory.

R. Meir Shlomo composed a number of stirring tunes that are commonly sung at farbrengens and other occasions.

Link: How to Start Married Life (third section of link)

Listen to a song composed by R. Meir Shlomo: Nigun Vollach

Laws and Customs

The Selichot ("supplication") prayers are recited in the early morning hours, before the morning prayers, in preparation for the "Days of Awe" of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Links: More on Selichot

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 67 Chapter 68 Chapter 69

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

Even if you will be at the extremes of the heavens, from there He will gather you…(Deut. 30:4.)

One day, G‑d will gather all the exiles of Israel. He will grab each one individually by the hand and take that Jew from his or her place. (Rashi)

A divine soul cannot be lost.

True, the Mishnah and Maimonides provide a long list of those who have lost their share in the eternal bliss of a future, perfected world.

Nevertheless, G‑d will not let go of their hands. Whatever they must go through, as far as they must travel, they too will eventually return to that share that is rightfully theirs. And they will return of their own accord.

If the Maker of All Souls never surrenders hope for any one of them, neither should we.

As distant as a Jew may seem from you, from our Torah and from the G‑d of Israel, never give up on your love for that Jew.

Believe in that Jew. You will greatly shorten the path he eventually must tread.