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Shabbat, September 24, 2022

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Today is the fourth day of Creation, when G‑d created the sun, moon, and stars:

G‑d said, “Let there be luminaries in the expanse of the heavens, to separate between the day and night….” and it was so. G‑d made the two large luminaries: the large luminary to rule by day and the small luminary to rule at night, and the stars…. G‑d saw that it was good. It was evening, and it was morning, a fourth day. (Genesis 1:14–19)

Links: Parshat Bereishit In-Depth, Separate but Equal

Laws and Customs

During the summer months, from the Shabbat after Passover until the Shabbat before Rosh Hashahah, we study a weekly chapter of the Talmud's Ethics of the Fathers ("Avot") each Shabbat afternoon. This week, we conclude this year's study cycle with the study of Chapters Five and Six.

Links: Ethics of the Fathers, Chapter 5 and Chapter 6

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 82
Chapter 83
Chapter 84

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

The sound of the shofar
is not the cry of a human voice.
It is the howl of an animal’s horn.

It is a cry so primal, so raw,
that the mind ceases to ponder,
the heart suspends its throb.

With the fury of a beast pent up in its cage,
the naked essence of the soul bursts out,
howling, ripping through heaven’s curtains,
awakening the primal essence of all being.

The raw core of your soul below
touches the Primal Essence above,
and now their reunion may begin.