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Friday, September 27, 2019

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Elul 27 is the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Shalom Rokeach (1779-1855), founder of the Belz Chassidic dynasty.

Today is the third day of Creation, when G‑d exposed the dry land and created vegetation:

G‑d said, “Let the water that is beneath the heavens gather into one place, and let the dry land appear,” and it was so…. G‑d saw that it was good. G‑d said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, seed-yielding herbs and fruit trees producing fruit according to its kind in which its seed is found, on the earth,” and it was so…. G‑d saw that it was good. It was evening, and it was morning, a third day. (Genesis 1:9–13)

Link: Parshat Bereishit In-Depth

On this date in 1614, the evil Vincent Fettmilch organized an attack on the Jewish quarter of Frankfurt, and the Jews were expelled from the city (Yosef Ometz §953). Thanks to the Emperor’s intervention, two years later the Jews were allowed to return to the city in honor, and Vincent and his cohorts were hanged (see entry for 20 Adar 1).

Link: Purim Vincent

R. Nathan Adler, a known kabbalist and mystic, headed a Talmudic academy in Frankfurt. Among his many students was the famed R. Moshe Schreiber, known as the Chatam Sofer, who viewed R. Nathan as his primary teacher and accorded him the utmost reverence.

Link: Shaagas Aryeh

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 79 Chapter 80 Chapter 81

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

Time is not a train of cars hitched one to another.

A year is not dragged along by the year preceding. The present is not hitched tightly to the past. The future is not enslaved to the present.

Rather, every year arrives fresh from its Creator, a year that never was before and could never have been known before its arrival.

That is why we call Rosh Hashanah “the birth of the world” in our prayers. The past has returned to its place, never to return. With the blowing of the shofar, the entirety of Creation is renewed.

From this point on, even the past exists only by virtue of the present.