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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Elul 24 is the yahrtzeit of the revered Torah scholar, pietist and Jewish leader Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan (1838-1933) of Radin (Poland), author of Chafetz Chaim (a work on the evils of gossip and slander and the guidelines of proper speech) and Mishnah Berurah (a codification of Torah law).

Link: A Tzaddik's Tear

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 70 Chapter 71 Chapter 72

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

On Rosh Hashanah, G‑d puts Himself on trial.

G‑d is beyond this world He has made, but He is found within it, as well. He is found in every atom, in every event, in every life of this world.

If so, though it may sound strange, He, as He is beyond this world, takes Himself, as He is present within this world, to trial.

“Is there meaning to be found,” He asks Himself, “in sustaining this world and all that inhabits it?”

Who will plead on His behalf? We, the human being. We act as the defense. We must demonstrate that, yes, there is awe, there is love, there is meaning, there is purpose in every detail of our life, and it is good.

In truth, we need only awaken the spark of G-d within our own souls. That spark within us connects with the Infinite Light of G‑d above. The circuit is complete and a new universe begins.

Each year, it is a different world, an entirely new world. A world of even greater meaning.