AZAMRA’S DIARY Sunday 12th September / 4th Tishri,5771

4-11 Tishri 5771
12-19 September 2010

Sunday 12 September / 4 Tishri

Fast of Gedaliah (deferred from Shabbat)
Today’s fast is in memory of Gedaliah son of Achikam, Babylonian-appointed governor of Judaea after the destruction of the First Temple. His assassination (Jeremiah ch. 41) brought the last vestiges of Jewish self-rule in Israel to an end. The fast commences at dawn on Sunday and is observed until nightfall. Selichot are recited today and every weekday until Yom Kippur.

Sunday night-Monday 12-13 September / 5 Tishri

Today is the anniversary of the birth and death of Naftali son of Jacob, and on this day Rabbi Akiva was imprisoned by the Romans.

Those who have made commitments to give charity (e.g. for being called to the Torah reading etc. on the High Holidays) should be sure to fulfill their commitments promptly so as not to provide an argument for the accusing forces on Yom Kippur.

Tuesday night-Wednesday 14-15 September / 7 Elul

Today is the anniversary of the birth and death of Zebulun son of Jacob.

Thursday 16 September / 8 Tishri

Today is the anniversary of the start of the seven-day Festival of Inauguration of King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. It is appropriate to read King Solomon’s prayer (I Kings ch 8).

Thursday night-Friday 16-17 September / 9 Tishri
Eve of Yom Kippur

It is a mitzvah to eat plentifully both on Thursday night and particularly during the day on Friday in preparation for the coming fast of Yom Kippur. Many endeavor to recite the Erev Yom Kippur Selichot around dawn, following them with Kapparot ("atonements") as found at the beginning of the Yom Kippur Machzor (prayer-book). The author of the Shulchan Aruch (Rabbi Yosef Karo) was opposed to carrying out Kapparot with chickens (on the grounds that this could degenerate into superstition) and advocated that charity money should be used instead. However, the author of the Mappa (Rabbi Moshe Isserles) defended the use of chickens as an ancient custom. After the ceremony the chickens are slaughtered by a competent shochet and given to the needy.

Since Israel are confident of G-d’s forgiveness on the coming Yom Kippur, it is customary to wear festive clothing today. It is customary to eat fish at the morning meal. One should avoid eating cheese and milk dishes, eggs, garlic and sesame etc. (to avoid vain emission of seed on Yom Kippur). Men customarily immerse in a mikveh, preferably after midday, in preparation for receiving the holiness of Yom Kippur. The afternoon Minchah service includes the full Vidui (confession). Later in the afternoon it is a mitzvah to eat Seudah Hamafseket, the final meal before the fast, which should consist of light foods. One must cease all eating and drinking shortly before the sunset. The festival candles must be lit before sunset. Prior to leaving the home for the synagogue, parents customarily bless their children with the priestly blessing, adding any other personal blessings they may choose.

Friday night-Saturday 17-18 September / 10 Tishri
Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

Information about the laws, customs and prayers of Yom Kippur is available in the Yom Kippur Machzor and on Internet.
Yom Kippur is the anniversary of G-d’s complete reconciliation with Israel after forgiving the sin of the golden calf. On this day Moses concluded his third forty-day stay on Mt Sinai and descended with the second Tablets of Stone. Yom Kippur is also the anniversary of the martyrdom of Rabbi Akiva at the hands of the Romans.
Following the breaking the Yom Kippur fast after nightfall on Saturday night, it is customary to begin building the Succah (in order to "go from strength to strength") unless this is impracticable on account of the limited time available prior to the festival of Succot, necessitating an earlier start.

Sunday 19 September / 11 Tishri

Today is called Shem HaShem ("the Name of HaShem", see Likutey Moharan II, 66) since His Name is "completed" through our Yom Kippur repentance and atonement. On this day, immediately following Moses’ final descent from Mount Sinai, he instructed Israel to contribute to the building of the Sanctuary, which is itself a revelation of the Name of G-d. It is appropriate to continue building and preparing the Succah — which is a also sanctuary.

During these days between Yom Kippur and Succot it is necessary to purchase one’s Lulav (1 palm branch), Etrog (1 citron), Hadass (3 myrtle branches) and Aravot (2 willow branches) in preparation for the mitzvah of the Four Kinds on the coming festival, though the Aravot should be procured at the last possible moment before the festival since they dry very quickly. (Keeping them wrapped in a damp cloth or silver paper in the refrigerator may help delay this.)

SOURCE: Azamra Institute – Jerusalem, Israel

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