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Thursday, September 5, 2024

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

The first section of the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) authored by Rabbi Joseph Caro (1488-1575) was completed in the Holy Land on this date in 1555.

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 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6

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

Pesach is translated as Passover, but really it means to leap, to skip, to bypass all conventions.

When G‑d struck the firstborn of Egypt, He skipped over the houses of the Israelites.

He also bypassed nature--all the channels of cause and effect by which He generally conducts His creation.

And the Israelites, as well, when they followed Moses out into the desert towards the promised land, it was with a great leap of faith.

This is the power you are given on Passover--or Leapover:

At other times of the year, you can’t get from one to a hundred without going through all 99 steps along the way. You need to learn something new each day, gradually acquire good habits and drop bad ones. To slowly open your eyes to a reality much bigger than yourself and hope to leave this world a little more refined than as you entered.

But now you are suddenly empowered to skip nature, bypass who you were a moment earlier, become a new person overnight, and take care of the details later.

Passover is the festival of the quantum leap.