ב"ה
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Thursday, September 19, 2024

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Elul 16 is the yahrzeit (day of passing) of the world-famous Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal.

Links: Two Candles for Sammy, The Other Side of the Prayerbook

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 46
Chapter 47
Chapter 48

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 balance two planes of being.

An outer world, in which we are helplessly carried down a stream and told, “Now is winter, soon will come spring, then summer, then autumn, then winter again. The unborn will live, the living will wither and die; a world will continue as it must be.”

And an inner world, of which we are master; in which we choose that life will be life, and death will have meaning, and the world we enter and leave behind will be filled with purpose.

The outer world is but a stage. The inner world is its soul for which it was brought into being.