ב"ה
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Wednesday, September 18, 2024

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

The Yeshivah "Tomchei Temimim Lubavitch", the first to integrate the "revealed" part of Torah (Talmud and Halachah) with the esoteric teachings of Chassidism in a formal study program, was on this date founded by the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom DovBer Schneersohn.

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 43
Chapter 44
Chapter 45

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

At first, there was punishment.

There were prophets who warned the people—for there is no punishment without warning.

There were people who understood what they were doing and did it anyways—for there is no punishment without conscious intent.

And so, up to and including the destruction of the First Temple, there was punishment.

But then came a time when there were no prophets to provide due warning. And rare was the man who had the power of mind to intentionally sin. The suffering that occurred then, since the time of the Second Temple, cannot be called punishment. Instead it is called “tikun”—healing, repair. Souls of past generations returned to this world to be repaired by standing firm despite great challenge and tribulation.

Then came the master of the hidden wisdom, the great Ari. According to his disciples, with his teachings he repaired all the souls of Israel.

It follows, writes the Mitteler Rebbe, that the sufferings of the Jewish people since the Holy Ari, of blessed memory, are neither punishment nor repair. If so, what are they?

We do not know.

One thing we do know: We know that we are witnessing something beyond our ability at present to understand.

But simply because the human mind cannot know a thing, does that mean this thing cannot exist? Because we cannot give a reason, is there then no reason?

Or perhaps it simply means that we should be a little more humble, since we are not the ones who made this world. We must wait, and when all the drama is done, then we will know with the knowledge of the Author Himself.

Only then, once we leave behind forever these dark clouds, will we fathom and truly see that all the darkness was truly a profound form of light.

See Sefer Hasichot 5751a, page 248, footnote 116.