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Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

R. Yoel Baal Shem was a saintly rabbi and miracle worker who led the Society of Hidden Tzaddikim (righteous men) after the passing of its leader, R. Eliyahu Baal Shem. He was succeeded by R. Adam Baal Shem, who was in turn succeeded by R. Israel Baal Shem Tov.

Link: What Does Baal Shem Tov Mean?

Laws and Customs

The 10-day period beginning on Rosh Hashanah and ending on Yom Kippur is known as the "Ten Days of Repentance"; this is the period, say the sages, of which the prophet speaks when he proclaims (Isaiah 55:6) "Seek G-d when He is to be found; call on Him when He is near." Psalm 130, Avinu Malkeinu and other special inserts and additions are included in our daily prayers during these days.

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 for today's three Psalms.

Chapter 97
Chapter 98
Chapter 99

Links: About the Ten Days of teshuvah; Voicemail; more on teshuvah

Daily Thought

Heavens, lend your ear and I will speak! Earth, hear what my mouth has to say! (Deut. 32:1)

Listen heavens and give ear, oh earth! (Isaiah 1:2)

Isaiah reversed Moses’ language. He asked the earth to lend its ear and called out to the heavens to listen.

Rabbi Akiva explained:

To whom do you say, “Lend your ear?” To someone who is close to you.

So Isaiah, who stood on the earth, asked the earth to lend an ear. But to heaven, he had to call out.

Moses, however, stood in the heavens, far from earth. He needed only to whisper and the heavens would hear.

And so it is for every one of us during the ten days from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur.

At this time we are all empowered to be like Moses—closer to heaven than to earth.

Take advantage while it lasts. Call out to heaven. Bring it down to earth.

Likutei Sichot vol. 14, p. 147.