13. Special Dates within the month of Elul

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13. Special Dates in Elul

A. The 14th of Elul-Begin reviewing the laws of Sukkos:[1]

It is a Mitzvah[2] upon every Jew to study[3] the laws of Sukkos prior to the festival until he is an expert in them, and knows what is to be done. One is to study the laws from the many available books dealing with the practical laws of Sukkos, or is to learn the laws from a teacher.

From when before Sukkos is one to begin studying the laws?[4] One is to begin studying the laws thirty[5] days prior to the festival. Practically one is to begin studying the laws of Sukkos starting from the 14th of Elul.[6] 

Increasing in study two weeks prior to Sukkos:[7]  One should increase in learning these laws from two weeks before Sukkos thus following the opinion of Rav Shimon Ben Gamliel.



Starting from the 14th of Elul it is a Mitzvah upon every individual to study the laws of Sukkos until he is expert in them.


B. The 15th of Elul-the Founding of Tomchei Temimim:

On the fifteenth of Elul 5657 [1897; תרנ׳׳ז] the Tomchei Temimim Yeshiva was founded in Lubavitch.


Directives of the Rebbe in connection with this date:[8]

  • One is to add in the learning of Chassidus on this day. This especially applies to the Torah of the Baal Shem Tov, Alter Rebbe, Rebbe Rashab and Rebbe Rayatz.
  • To strengthen and establish new classes in Chassidus.
  • To add in the service of prayer, which is uniquely connected to the purpose of this Yeshiva.
  • To hold a Chassidic gathering in all Yeshivas of Tomchei Temimim.
  • To open branches of Tomchei Temimim in all applicable areas.


C. Chai Elul:[9]

The occurrences:

  1. The eighteenth of Elul is the birthday of the Baal Shem Tov. The Baal Shem Tov was born on Monday, the eighteenth of Elul, in the year 5458/1698. This Hebrew year spells out the word נחת [tranquility, fulfillment], as the Baal Shem Tov brought tranquility both to G-d and to the Jewish people.
  2. On Chai Elul 5484/1724 [תפ׳׳ד] Achiyah HaShiloni revealed himself to the Baal Shem Tov.
  3. On Chai Elul 5494/1734 [תצ׳׳ד] the Baal Shem Tov revealed himself to the public and was no longer a hidden Tzaddik.
  4. The eighteenth of Elul is the birthday of the Alter Rebbe. He was born on Wednesday, the eighteenth of Elul, in the year 505/1745. This Hebrew year spells out the word קה״ת which is the initials of the phrase קרני הוד תורה.

Its importance:

  • The Rebbe Rashab and Rebbe Rayatz were accustomed to wish others Gut Yom Tov on this day.[10] The Rebbe Rashab would wear Shabbos clothing and privately guard this day as a holiday.[11]
  • Chai Elul is the day that introduced, and introduces, vitality into Elul.
  • Chai Elul enters enthusiasm to one’s spiritual service as defined by the phrase “Ani Ledodi Vedodi Li”.
  • Chai Elul is the day on which one begins one’s Divine service for the coming year.[12]


Day of Farbrengen:[13]

One is hold a Chassidic gathering in the local Shul on Chaiy Elul. One is to speak of stories of Tzaddikim and strengthen the path of Chassidus.



In the Rebbe’s Minyan, Tachanun was recited on this day as normal.


The last 12 days of Elul:[15]

The last 12 days of Elul corresponds to the 12 months of previous year. Each day one should do Teshuva for its corresponding month.


Corresponding Teshuvah month












Adar and/or Adar 11[16]














D. The 25th of Elul:

The 25th of Elul is the day the world was created. [Some have the custom to recite the verses in Parshas Bireishis of the first day of creation and so on and so forth for each day of creation until Rosh Hashanah when the sixth day is recited.[17] The Rebbe Rayatz states that this custom was practiced by the earlier Chassidim in order to draw down the Avoda into also these sublime matters.[18] This custom is no longer practiced in Lubavitch.]


E. The 26th of Elul:

It is proper for every person to increase in Teshuvah within the four days prior to Rosh Hashanah.[19] This is similar to a Karban which must be separated four days prior to its slaughter in order to verify that it is free from blemish. Similarly we must free ourselves from blemish four days prior to Rosh Hashanah as on Rosh Hashanah it is considered that we are the sacrifice as opposed to other holidays where the animal is the sacrifice.[20]


F. The 29th of Elul-Birthday of the Tzemach Tzedek:

The 29th of Elul is the birthday of the third Rebbe of Chabad, Rabbi Menachem Mendel, known as the Tzemach Tzedek. He was born on Erev Rosh HaShanah, the twenty-ninth of Elul, in 5549/1789.


G. The Torah reading of Parshas Ki Seitzei:

If one missed Parshas Zachar: If one did not hear the reading of Amaleik on Parshas Zachar he can still fulfill his Biblical obligation through hearing the Torah reading of Amaleik in Parshas Ki Seitzei.[21] [In such a case however one must have in mind to fulfill the Mitzvah of remembering Amaleik upon hearing the reading. Some Poskim[22] write that one is to tell the Baal Korei to have in mind to fulfill his obligation.]

Zeicher/Zecher:[23] There is dispute amongst Poskim[24] as whether one is to read Zeicher Amaleik or Zecher Amaleik. Practically one is to read both.[25] By the reading of Parshas Zachar and Parshas Ki Seitzei one reads first Zeicher and then Zecher. By the reading on Parshas Beshalach and Purim one reads first Zecher and then Zeicher.[26] Our custom is to only repeat the word Zeicher and Zecher, however others have the custom to repeat the entire verse twice.[27] [One is to repeat Zeicher Zecher in both Shevii and the Haftorah.[28]]


Noise making by Zachar:[29]

Many Gedolei Yisrael have protested against noise making at the end of the reading of Amaleik.[30]


In a leap year is one to fulfill his obligation of Zachar also with the reading of Parshas Ki Seitzei?

Some Poskim[31] rule that in a leap year, asides for Parshas Zachar, one is to intend to fulfill his obligation of remembering Amaleik also during the reading of Parshas Ki Seitzei.[32] Others[33] however hold it is not necessary to do so.[34]


H. The Torah portion of Ki Savo:[35]

In the sixth Aliyah the Torah portion discussing the curses is read.

Avoiding an interval by the curses:[36] The custom[37] is not to make an interval of Aliyos by the curses of Ki Savo. One is to read from at least three verses prior to the curses and conclude at least three verses after the curses.[38]

Not to call up by name:[39] The custom is to not call anyone by name for the Aliyah of the curses, which is the 6th Aliyah, and rather whoever desires goes up for the Aliyah without being called.[40] [Many are accustomed to designate this Aliyah to a specific person and in such a case] one is to avoid going up for this Aliyah in place of the person that it is set to be given to.[41] [Many are accustomed that the Baal Korei himself is designated to receive this Aliyah.[42] Practically this is the Chabad custom.[43] The Baal Korei is not called up by name and hence begins the blessings on his own. The Baal Korei may receive a Mi Shebeirach with his name after the Aliyah.[44]]

Reading the curses in a low voice:[45] The custom is for the reader to lower his voice upon reading the curses. He raises his voice again only by the words “Eilu Divrei Habris” in the end of Shishi.


What is one to do if the Baal Korei is a Kohen?

As brought above many are accustomed [and so is the Chabad custom] that the Baal Korei receives the Aliyah of the curses. If the Baal Korei is a Kohen, then some Poskim[46] rule he should read seven Aliyos prior to the curses and then go up and read the curses as an eighth Aliyah. However it is not allowed for the Kohen to go up for the curses if it is still the 6th or seventh Aliyah.[47] [Practically however according to the Chabad custom the Baal Korei may not add or change the Aliyos.[48] Therefore the Kohen is not to go up and rather another person should do so without his name being called.]


[1] 429/1-3; Hisvadyus 1982 Vol. 4 p. 2154

Background of this ruling from Admur 429/1-3:

The early Sages, in the times that the Temple was established, instituted that the preachers should begin to teach publicly the laws of the upcoming festival thirty days prior to the festival. Thus from Purim and on they would expound on the laws of Pesach. From the fifth of Iyar and on they would expound on the laws of Atzeres [Shavuos], and from the 14th of Elul and on they would expound on the laws of the Chag [Sukkos].

The reason behind this institution: Every Jew living in Eretz Yisrael at the time of the Temple was obligated to bring three sacrifices [to the Temple] on the Festival [the Olas Riiyah, Shalmeiy Simcha and Shalmeiy Chagigah]. Now, being that the animals to be sacrificed must be clean of blemishes and other invalidations, therefore the Sages instituted for the preachers to begin expounding on these laws thirty days prior to the holiday, in order to remind the people of the festival, so they do not forget to prepare animals which are kosher for the sacrifice. They thus had thirty days for preparation. [429/1]

Does this institution apply even today? Even after the destruction of the Temple this institution remained active, as every Rebbe would teach his students the laws of the upcoming festival thirty days prior, in order so they become experts in the laws of the festival, and know that which has to be done. [429/2] In today’s generations however since the Rabbi’s no longer teach the laws to the students being that they are already all written in books, it is therefore a mitzvah on every person to learn the laws of the festival prior to the festival until he is expert in them, and knows what is to be done. [429/3]

[2] What is the meaning of the term “Mitzvah”; is it obligatory, or voluntary? Some write that the term Mitzvah is not a complete obligation. [Chazon Ovadia Pesach p. 1; See also Kelalei Haposkim page 187 that the term Mitzvah is not an obligation.] Possibly one can say as an explanation of why learning the laws is not an absolute obligation is because since everything today is written in Sefarim one can simply look up a Halacha when it comes up, and thus there is no obligation to actually learn all the laws prior to Sukkos. Alternatively one can explain that the institution of the Sages was only for the teachers and not the students, thus one cannot consider it an obligation for the student to learn. [See previous footnote]

[3] To note that the Tur/Michaber rules that “One asks about the laws of Pesach” which seemingly refers only to that if two people ask a question to a Rabbi that one who asks regarding Pesach receives precedence. This wording of Admur ibid, based on the Magen Avraham, is negating this opinion. However the Biur Halacha 429 learns that one can learn into the Michaber that asking has the same meaning as expounding. The Ran and Rashba however learn that asking means as was explained above. All the other Rishonim rule otherwise.

[4] 429/1

[5] Hisvadyus 1982 Vol. 4 p. 2154 mentions to begin learning the laws from the 14th of Elul; Ateres Zikeinim 429

Ruling of Admur in 429/3: To note that in Admur ibid mentions studying the laws thirty days before hand only with regards to the preachers as one done in the times of the Temple, however regarding today’s times that all the laws are written in Sefarim he does not write how many days before hand one is to begin the study. However in Ateres Zikeinim 429 he writes that even in today’s times that all the laws are written in books one is to study the laws 30 days before.

[6] Tishrei includes 14 days of learning until Sukkos which is on the 15th. Thus one needs to learn an additional 16 days in Elul to make up the 30 day period prior to the festival. Now since Elul is always a 29 day month, even in a leap year, therefore one must begin from the 14th for a total of 30 days.

[7] Based on Rebbe brought in Hamaaseh Hu Haikur regarding Pesach; See Pesachim 6a

[8] Hisvadyus 1989 4/315; Hiskashrus 995

[9] Sefer Haminhagim [English] 100-103

[10] Sefer Haminhagim ibid; Sefer Hasichos 1943/141

[11] Sefer Hasichos ibid

[12] Likkutei Dibburim Likkut 23 [p.617]: “Chaiy Elul is the beginning of the Avoda of the new year…As is known every year within a person’s life contains a specific form of Avoda”

[13] Igros Kodesh 1/130

[14] See Hiskashrus 840; Otzer Minhagei Chabad p. 21-22; The Rebbe Rashab told his son the Rebbe Rayatz not to say Tachanun on this day. [Sefer Hasichos 1943 p. 140] When asked in 1989 whether Tachanun is to be recited on Chaiy Elul the Rebbe responded that regarding matters dependent on feeling one is not to ask. [Otzer ibid] Obviously this refers to a true feeling of joy and not a feeling that simply comes as a result of reading this response. [ibid]

[15] Sefer Hasichos Rebbe Rayatz 1943 Chaiy Elul p. 177-179; Sefer Haminhagim ibid; Igros Kodesh 3/432; Likkutei Sichos 2/629

[16] Likkutei Sichos 24/642

[17] Birkeiy Yosef 581/19; Kaf Hachaim 581/21; Alef Lamateh 581/1

The 24th of Elul: On the 24th day of Elul the custom is to recite Parshas Vayishlach “Vieileh Hamelachim” as in this Parsha the seven kings that existed prior to creation are hinted to. These seven kings refer to the worlds that Hashem built and destroyed prior to creation [Sheviras Hakeilim of Tohu]. They began being destroyed on the 17th of Elul and were completed on the 24th of Elul. On the 25th day began the first day of creation of this world. [Kaf Hachaim 581/21]

[18] Likkutei Sichos 15 p. 488; Otzer Minhagei Chabad 77

[19] Kaf Hachaim 581/29

[20] Elya Raba 581/8; Ateres Zekeinim 581 based on Yerushalmi Rosh Hashanah 4/8 in expounding why by the sacrifices of Rosh Hashanah the verse states “Veasisem” as opposed to “Vehikravtem”.

[21] Aruch Hashulchan 685/5; Hisvadyus 1989 2 p. 442-446 printed in Shaar Hamoadim Adar 46-47

[22] Har Tzevi 1/58

[23] Shaareiy Halacha Uminhag 2/288; Ketzos Hashulchan 84 footnote 22 and glosses to volume 3 (p.74b)

[24] Brought in M”B 685/18 [The Rebbe in Shaareiy Halacha Uminhag ibid writes his source is from the Mesorah] Some Poskim rule the main Nusach is with a Tzeirei. [Betzeil Hachachmah 6/50; Piskeiy Teshuvos 685/9] Others rule the main Nusach is a Segal. [Maaseh Rav 134 that so was the custom of the Gra; Ketzos Hashulchan 84 footnote 22. In the glosses to volume 3 (p.74b) he proves that this was also the opinion of the Tzemach Tzedek] In conclusion the Rebbe and Ketzos Hashulchan ibid rule that by Beshalach the main Nusach is with a Tzeirei while by Ki Seitzei the main Nussach is with a Segal. Nevertheless we still read both Nuschaos as will be explained.

The saying of the Toras Chesed: The Ketzos Hashulchan ibid quotes the Toras Chesed to say “Zecher, Zeicher, the main thing is to blot them out properly”.

[25] M”B ibid; Ketzos Hashulchan ibid writes that those which are meticulous would read it one time with a Tzeirei and one time with a Segal. Meaning that by the reading of Beshalach and Ki Seitzei they would read it one way by Shevi and the second way by Maftir, while by Purim and Parshas Zachar they would repeat the verse twice. In the glosses to volume 3 (p.74b) he concludes that this is the custom, to read both Zeicher and Zecher and so was the directive of Rav Shneur Zalman of Lublin, the author of Toras Chesed. To note however that there he mentions that the Baal Korei in Lubavitch stated they would read by Beshalach only with a Tzeirei, and by Ki Seitzei only with a Segal.

[26] So concludes the Rebbe ibid, Ketzos Hashulchan ibid based on the Sefer Boneh Yerushalayim which is Meyuchas to the Alter Rebbe that by Beshalach the main Nusach is with a Tzeirei while by Ki Seitzei the main Nussach is with a Segal. Nevertheless we still read both Nuschaos as ruled the Toras Chesed.

[27] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 685/9

[28] Otzer Minhagei Chabad p. 18 unlike the custom recorded in Ketzos Hashulchan 85 footnote 22 and the supplements in the back of the Sefer that one is to read Zeicher by Shevi and Zecher by Maftir.

[29] Hiskashrus 109 and 1025; Yalkut Yosef 5/259

[30] Seemingly the reason for this is due to a Hefsek, interval, in the reading or between the reading and the blessing.

[31] Maharam Shick Mitzvah 605

[32] As after 12 months have passed without remembering Amaleik it is considered as if one has forgotten it. [ibid]

[33] Divreiy Yoel 33

[34] As the extra month during a leap year is all considered part of that year and hence it is not considered that more than 12 months have passed. [ibid]

[35] 428/6

[36] Michaber ibid

[37] One does not make an interval in the reading of the curses in Bechukosaiy, and reads from three verses prior and three verses after the curses. However by the curses of Ki Savo one may make an interval, [as they were said by Moshe in the singular tense and hence are not as severe-M”B 428/18]. Nevertheless the custom is not to make an interval even by the curses of Ki Savo. [Michaber ibid]

[38] Michaber ibid; Three verses-M”A 428/8

[39] Rama 428/6

[40] The reason: As we suspect that if one is called by name he may not want to go up for the Aliyah and will despise the curses [as well as doing so shortens one’s life-Brachos 55a]. Hence one is to arrange in advance who is to receive this Aliyah. [Levush 428; M”B 428/19; Biur Halacha “Beshmo”; Kaf Hachaim 428/40]

[41] M”A 428/8 in name of Mahril “The Mahril despised those that went up for the Aliyah as it is only to be given to the Shamash which is hired for this purpose.”

Will something evil befall one who receives this Aliyah? Those that go up for this Aliyah suspect that something evil will befall them. However certainly if one is doing so out of respect for the Torah nothing evil will befall him. [M”B 428/17] The Sefer Chassidim 766 states that in previous generations they would call an ignoramus for this Aliyah in order so the evil does not befall a Torah scholar. Nevertheless if a Torah scholar was called up he is not to refrain from reading it. [brought in Kaf Hachaim 428/34] The Kneses Hagedola states that no evil will befall anyone as one has no intent to recite curses at all. [brought in Kaf Hachaim ibid] In Shaar Hakavanos p. 73 and Peri Eitz Chaim it states that the Arizal went up to the Torah for this Aliyah and read the Torah as is the Sephardic custom.

[42] M”B 428/17 “This is a proper custom”; Kaf Hachaim 282/8; 428/35 “So is the custom today”; Darkei Chaim Veshalom 203

[43] Hayom Yom p. 88; Sefer Haminhagim p. 31; See Otzer Minhagei Chabad p. 19

[44] Hiskashrus 840

[45] Peri Chadash 428/7; M”A 428/8 in name of Kneses Hagedola regarding Parshas Haeigel; Kaf Hachaim 428/38; Hiskashrus 840. In Shaar Hakavanos and Peri Eitz Chaim it states that the Arizal went up to the Torah for this Aliyah and read it in a loud voice.

[46] M”B 428/17

[47] See Rama 135/10

[48] Tzemach Tzedek 35 [Custom of Alter Rebbe who was the Baal Korei]; Sefer Haminhagim p. 31; Igros Kodesh 3/31

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