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Shabbat, 27 Elul, 5781

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

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 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

Behold, I have placed before you today good and bad, life and death…choose life. (Deut. 30:15)

How is it that there is even a possibility to choose evil in G‑d’s world? Doesn’t G‑d despise evil? How does it appear in His world?

True. If G‑d would despise evil because it opposes Him, then evil could never be possible.

But evil only opposes G‑d because He chose it should.

It is not an arbitrary choice. There are no conditions to this choice. Neither is it a choice dependent on some reason that could possibly change.

It is an absolute choice, one that transcends time and all existence. An all-encompassing decision.

And it plays out in this world through the free choice of a human being, the creature within whom G‑d breathed His very essence and being.

So that when you choose good over its opposite in this world, you connect to the G‑d point inside you, that place where G‑d chooses you.

Likutei Sichot vol. 4, p. 1339.