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Monday, September 16, 2019

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

You existed before, in your mother’s womb.
There you were comfortable, warm and cared for.

But you left that place behind.
You entered a world, cold and harsh.
The mere act of living became a struggle.
You cried.

Yet, every year you celebrate that day.

Why?

Because the day you were born,
you were no longer the extension of another being.
The day you came to this world,
you were empowered to give the world something
that neither your parents
nor your teachers
could give to you.

So you celebrate your birthday
and you take time to think:
What have I given the world that the world did not give to me?