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Friday, September 13, 2019

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Marriage of the 6th Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn (1880-1950), to Rebbetzin Nechamah Dinah (1882-1971).

Elul 13 is the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Yosef Chaim of Baghdad (1835-1909), the renowned Sephardic Halachic authority and Kabbalist, known as "Ben Ish Chai" after his work by that name.

Links:

The Ben Ish Chai, A Biography
The Ultimate Employee (from the teachings of the Ben Ish Chai)

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 37 Chapter 38 Chapter 39

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

We all suffer a maddening delusion of being something separate from G‑d. The delusion of “I.”

We cannot heal it, because yes, we exist, for He created us.

We cannot live with it, because this chilling notion of otherness is a denial of the truth.

But we can resolve it in the act of learning Torah. In learning Torah, He speaks with us. If there were no other, with whom would He speak?

We can resolve it in prayer. In prayer, we speak with Him. If there were no other, who would speak with Him?

We can resolve it in every mitzvah. Through every mitzvah, we become one with Him. If there were no other, two would not become one.

Now the reality of our otherness is no longer simply a delusion, but a treasured artifact of a divine desire: that two should become one.

As Adam, the primal human, said, “This ‘I’ was created to serve its Creator.”

ליל שמח״ת תשנ״ב ע׳ 39. ש״פ משפטים, פ׳ שקלים, תש״נ הע׳ 62. וראה גם כל הענין בפנים. (ח״א ע׳ 304).