Today is: Tuesday, Elul 17, 5772 · September 4, 2012
Today's Laws & Customs
• Elul Observances
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.
Following the failed attempt to dispatch a raven from the ark (see "Today in Jewish History" for Elul 10), Noah sent a dove from the window of the ark to see if the great Flood that covered the earth had abated. "But the dove found no resting place for the sole of its foot" and returned to the ark; Noah waited seven days before making another attempt.
• R. Schneur Zalman's parents marry (1743)
Wedding day of Rabbi Baruch and Rebbetzin Rivkah, the parents of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812 -- see entry for tomerrow, Elul 18), in 1743.
If only we could kiss a Torah-scroll with the same love that my master (Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov) kissed the children when he took them to school as a teacher's assistant
As Jewish communities worldwide mark thirty days ("shloshim") since his passing, this Torah email is dedicated in loving memory of the legendary Mr. Sami Rohr whose wisdom and philanthropyy catalyzed Jewish communal transformation worldwide.
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