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August 27, 2016 / 23 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘elul’

Government Decides not to Abandon Gush Etzion Memorial Park

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon will not expel people deployed at the Oz VeGaon Memorial Park in Gush Etzion, contrary to fears expressed by Women in Green earlier this week.

The nationalist organization turned to Gush Etzion Regional Council leader Davidi Perl, who spoke with Ya’alon, leading to a deciding not only to keep the park intact but also to authorize it.

It was dedicated last year in memory of Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Fraenkel and Gilad Sha’ar, the three victims of Hamas kidnap-murderers from the Hebron area.

The park is located immediately east of the Gush Etzion junction and is populated by a family who protect it from Arab vandals.

There are no intentions of turning it into a full-fledged outpost, which the Defense Minister may have incorrectly assumed was the plan of nationalists. Buildings at the park are used for displays and hands-on activities for children.

“The minister of defense has once again proven that he is a friend of the settlement enterprise,” Perl said after Ya’alon’s decision.

Oz VeGaon announced on Wednesday that Selichot prayers will be held at the park Thursday at 12:30 a.m.

Sephardi Jews have been saying Selichot prayers since the first day of the Hebrew month of Elul. Ashkenazi Jews begin reciting Selichot this Saturday night. The prayers are concluded the eve of Yom Kippur.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Making a Shofar

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Rabbi Nissan of Efrat teaches how to make a shofar and blow it. In the current Hebrew month Elul, the month of Selichot (forgiveness), there is the Jewish custom of blowing the Shofar every morning.

Photo of the Day

Selichot

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

Many Jewish communities have the custom of saying Selichot (forgiveness prayers) during the entire month of Elul, leading up to the High Holidays.

Photo of the Day

ABC’s of Elul

Monday, September 1st, 2014

If you had an important court date scheduled – one that would determine your financial future, or even your very life – you’d be sure to prepare for weeks beforehand.

On Rosh Hashanah, each individual is judged on the merit of his deeds. Whether he will live out the year or not. Whether he will have financial success or ruin. Whether he will be healthy or ill. All of these are determined on Rosh Hashanah.

Elul – the month preceding Rosh Hashanah – begins a period of intensive introspection, of clarifying life’s goals, and of coming closer to God. It is a time for realizing purpose in life – rather than perfunctorily going through the motions of living by amassing money and seeking gratification. It is a time when we step back and look at ourselves critically and honestly, as Jews have from time immemorial, with the intention of improving.

The four Hebrew letters of the word Elul (aleph-lamed-vav-lamed) are the first letters of the four words Ani l’dodi v’dodi lee – “I am to my Beloved and my Beloved is to me” (Song of Songs 6:3). These words sum up the relationship between God and His people.

In other words, the month preceding Rosh Hashanah is a time when God reaches out to us, in an effort to create a more spiritually-inspiring atmosphere, one that stimulates teshuva.

Slichot

Beginning on Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah, we recite “Slichot”, a special series of prayers that invoke God’s mercy. If Rosh Hashanah falls at the beginning of the week, then “Slichot” begin on the Saturday night of the previous week. (Sefardim begin saying “Slichot” on Rosh Chodesh Elul.)

After the sin of the Golden Calf, Moses asked God to explain His system for relating with the world. God’s answer, known as the “13 Attributes of Mercy,” forms the essence of the “Slichot” prayers. The “13 Attributes” speak of “God’s patience.” The same God Who created us with a clean slate and a world of opportunity, gives us another opportunity if we’ve misused the first one.

“Slichot” should be said with a minyan. If this is not possible, then “Slichot” should still be said alone, omitting the parts in Aramaic and the “13 Attributes of Mercy.”

Finally, the most important aspect of Elul is to make a plan for your life. Because when the Big Day comes, and each individual stands before the Almighty to ask for another year, we’ll want to know what we’re asking for!

Additions to the Services

Beginning the second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, it is the Ashkenazi custom to blow the shofar every morning after prayers, in order to awaken us for the coming Day of Judgement. The shofar’s wailing sound inspires us to use the opportunity of Elul to its fullest.

Also beginning in Elul, we say Psalm 27 in the morning and evening services. (Sefardim say it in the morning and afternoon services.) In this Psalm, King David exclaims: “One thing I ask… is to dwell in the house of God all the days of my life.” we focus on the unifying force of God in our lives, and strive to increase our connection to the infinite transcendent dimension.

40-Day Period

Rewind 3,000 years to the Sinai Desert. God has spoken the Ten Commandments, and the Jews have built the Golden Calf. Moses desperately pleads with God to spare the nation.

On the first day of Elul, Moses ascends Mount Sinai, and 40 days later – on the seminal Yom Kippur – he returned to the people, with a new, second set of stone tablets in hand.

Rabbi Shraga Simmons

Outreach – Thinking Out of the Box

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

One of the things a religious Jew learns early on in their education is to revere the sages of the Talmud. And to treat the Talmud as the basis and discussion of all Torah law: That which is written; that which is derived, that which is oral, and that which is of rabbinic origin.

It is what the Rambam based his magnum opus, the Yad Hachazakah upon.  He redacted all the laws discussed in the Talmud, organized them into categories and published them in this Sefer.  This was also done in various other forms by other Rishonim as well and ultimately Rabbi Yosef Karo published a final version of Jewish law in what we now call the Shulchan Aruch. (Although the Shulchan Aruch has its own commentaries that in some cases differ with the conclusions of its author, that is beyond the scope of this post.)

The Talmud is not only the repository of Halachic discussion. It serves various other functions. Among them is a glimpse into the historical period of the sages; discussions about ethical behavior; and as a means of exercising the mind with the use of logic and rational thought.

But when a religious Jew studies the Talmud, his primary purpose is to understand it as the source of Halachic practice. The rest, as important as it all may be… is just a fringe benefit.

What about secular Jews? Should they be encouraged to study the Talmud too? Even if they ignore its most important function as the source of Jewish behavior? My answer to that is an unequivocal yes. But doesn’t that run the risk of ridiculing the sages of the Talmud that we are taught to revere? Perhaps. But being religious doesn’t prevent that from happening anyway. There are portions of the Talmud that make it very difficult to do, such as the portions known as the Refuos.

Those sections deal with cures for diseases. When one reads them, it is virtually impossible to give them any credibility as curative. How is one to see these passages? There are many possible explanations that allow us to remain with our respect for the sages. I am not going to list them. But suffice it to say that we can  and should still respect the sages despite the fact that we do not understand how these cures could have ever worked.

But when a Jew who was not raised in an observant home and does not have the benefit of being impressed at an early age of the reverence we give to the sages of the Talmud, it would be very easy to ridicule them.  With that in mind, how can we risk the ridicule that might result when a secular Jew studies the Talmud without the guidance of religious teachers?

I think the benefits of Torah study outweigh that possibility. In my view the biggest enemy of Jewish continuity is not secularism it is apathy and ignorance.  Ideally it would be great if the observant community could reach out to all secular Jews and teach them Torah.   I truly believe that there is an innate hunger among many secular Jews with no background to find out who they really are; what their heritage is.

Beth Kissileff is one such person. And she describes her own journey into learning about her heritage. Unfortunately her first attempt at it was quite the turn off for her. From her article in The Tower Magazine:

I tried a class on the weekly Torah portion at a Jerusalem girls’ yeshiva, taught by a rabbi with an Ivy League PhD who was known for his love of modern art. But I was completely alienated when he said that getting a PhD was a waste of time for anyone.

It’s really too bad that her first encounter was with someone who eschewed his own secular education. If there was ever a way to turn educated people off from Yiddshkeit, this is the way to do it! Why did he denigrate his own secular education? Who knows. I can only speculate that he had become a victim of the some of the more right wing Hashkafos in Israel that do just that. Fortunately this is an exception. At least I hope it is.

Harry Maryles

Police Close Temple Mount Jews for Entire Week

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Jerusalem police have accelerated the shutdown of the Temple Mount to Jews and have barred them entry until next Sunday, sparking a planned protest rally for 7:30 Wednesday morning at the Mugrahbim Bridge entrance to the holy site form the Western Wall plaza.

The police are keeping the Temple Mount open only for Muslims because of their celebrations at the end of Ramadan.

The Temple mount was closed to non-Muslims for a large period of the current Hebrew month of Av and beginning of Elul.

One the days that Jews were allowed to ascend, they were subject to abuse and harassment by Muslims and their visits often were shortened by police.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Tishrei: A Time to Examine Your Deeds and Your Portfolio

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

What did you do when you built your portfolio? Did you invest the money and then simply walk away? Did you then expect to take another look in ten years’ time and find that you had miraculously become rich?

The financial world, like many other things in life, is always subject to change. Markets go up, and markets go down. What if there is a war in your part of the world, or a huge banking crisis? The financial markets are affected by so many outside factors, a lot of which are not necessarily as dramatic as the above two examples but still have their ramifications upon investments. For this reason, it is always a good idea to take a periodic check of your portfolio to see if the level of risk is still appropriate and if you need to readjust your investments in favor of something that would be better for your present circumstances.

This fiscal check could be compared with the annual reevaluation that Jews are supposed to make at this time of the year. The months of Elul and Tishrei are a time to examine your deeds. You look at what you have done over the past year and where you are going. Are the decisions that you made in the past for yourself and your family still right for you, given the circumstances in your lives that may have changed during the year? How have various challenges that you may have undergone affected the way that you live your life? When you look at the future, what do you see? Although you cannot predict what will happen, there are certain things that you may need to keep in mind and prepare for. Are you prepared for these events?

Spiritual accounting is similar to the financial accounting. In order to be an effective investor, it’s a good idea to sit down once a year with your financial adviser and ask:

– What has happened over the past year that might have changed the balance in your portfolio? – Which of your investments have become more or less risky as a result of market performance? (Learn more about assessing whether high or low risk is good for you.)

– What are your goals for this year, and do you have the means to accomplish them?

– Do you need to change anything in order to improve your financial situation? And if so, exactly what?

– What are the pros and cons of any possible financial move that you may be considering, in terms of hidden costs and taxes, as well as potential profits?

With best wishes in starting the New Year with renewed spiritual strength…and a reevaluated, stronger portfolio.

Doug Goldstein, CFP®

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/goldstein-on-gelt/tishrei-a-time-to-examine-your-deeds-and-your-portfolio/2012/09/04/

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