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Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

In 1522, Rabbi Yosef Caro started writing the Beit Yosef, his famous commentary on the Arba Turim, Yaakov Ben Asher’s comprehensive Halachic code. He started writing this commentary in Adrianople, Turkey, and continued for the next twenty years, during which time he relocated to Safed, Israel. He completed the monumental work on the 11th of Elul. It took another ten years for the writings to be published.

Marriage of the fifth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, Rabbi Sholom DovBer Schneersohn ("Rashab", 1860-1920), to Rebbetzin Shterna Sarah Schneerson (1860-1942).

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 31 Chapter 32 Chapter 33

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

Joseph had two sons in Egypt. From their names, we learn how a human being can be successful in this world.

He named the first son Menasheh, which means to forget. Whenever Joseph called Menasheh, he remembered that this land was causing him to forget his true home and all that his father had taught him.

And so he never forgot.

He named his second son Ephraim, which means to be productive. Whenever Joseph called Ephraim, he remembered that he had a purpose to accomplish in Egypt, so that his family could eventually settle there in dignity and prosperity.

And so he was successful.

Just as the names of both sons were crucial to Joseph’s success, so too every human being must keep two memories awake at all times:

This material world is not your true place, for your soul descended into this body from a luminous, heavenly place.

And you are here for a purpose, to channel that heavenly light into this world.

Menasheh came first, but Ephraim, Jacob later told Joseph, was greater.

Because first you must remember that this is not your true place.

And only then will you remember to accomplish your true purpose, to bring this earthly world in harmony with that place from which you came.

Likutei Sichot, vol. 15, pg. 433.