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Monday, September 2, 2019

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

On Simchat Torah we dance with our feet, not with our heads.

We are celebrating the Torah, and the Torah is something we study with our heads. But we dance with our feet, not with our heads.

If we would dance with our heads, each one would dance a different dance, each in a different space, some with friends but not with others, some as lonesome souls.

One head is higher, one is lower, one is here on earth, the other in the clouds or beyond, and some minds know only their own space that no one else can know.

But we dance with our feet, and all our feet are here on the same earth—none higher and none lower. So now we can all dance as one, with one heart, as a single being.

Now there is no loneliness, only joy.

Likkutei Sichot, vol. 20, p. 370.