Elul Checklist and Summary

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  • Hold a Farbrengen [Chassidic gathering] on both nights of Rosh Chodesh
  • Blow the Shofar on the first day of Rosh Chodesh for practice. Every day thereafter blow Tashrat-Tashat-Tarat after Shacharis.
  • Recite the three extra Kapitlach of Tehillim per day, after Davening.
  • Recite Ledavid Hashem Ori in Shacharis, after Shir Shel Yom, and in Mincha, before Aleinu, starting from the 1st day of Rosh Chodesh until Hoshana Raba.
  • Begin to bless other Jews with a Kesiva Vechasima Tova both orally and in letters.
  • Perform a Cheshbon Nefesh
  • Check Mezuzos and Tefillin
  • On the 14th of Elul begin reviewing the laws of Sukkos
  • Recite Selichos in the morning at the allotted amount of days prior to Rosh Hashanah.

The month of Elul:

  1. Farbrengen:
  • The Talmidei Hatemimim [students of the Yeshiva] are to hold a Chassidic gathering throughout the two nights of Rosh Chodesh Elul. They are to speak of the Avodah of Elul/Tishrei, earnest prayer, betterment of one’s character traits and being scrupulous in matter of fear of Heaven.
  1. Shofar:
  • It is the custom of Ashkenazi Jewry to blow Shofar throughout the month of Elul.
  • One begins to blow the Shofar for practice on the first day of Rosh Chodesh [if it does not fall on Shabbos]. From the second day and onwards, one blows nine blows [Tashrat, Tashat, Tarat] following Shacharis and the daily recital of Tehillim.
  • One does not blow Shofar on Erev Rosh Hashanah unless one is blowing for practice in a closed room.
  • There are opinions which write that the institution to blow Shofar in the month of Elul was only established in regards to a Minyan, however a person praying privately is not required to blow.
  • If the congregation did not blow the Shofar after Shacharis the Shofar is to be blown after Mincha.
  • Some Poskim rule one is not to blow the Shofar at night, even for practice, being the Tekios arouse the supernal attributes which is not to be done during the night. From other Poskim however it is evident that one may do so even at night.
  • Practically the custom is to stand while hearing the Shofar blowing.
  1. Saying three chapters of Tehillim a day:
  • From the second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul it is customary to recite three chapters of Tehillim a day. We start from the first chapter, each day moving forward another three chapters. The final chapters are recited on Yom Kippur.
  • One is not to recite more than the allotted three chapters a day as part of this order.
  • If one missed the three chapters of a given day then he should first recite the current day’s three chapters and make up the chapters he missed on a later occasion.
  • The Rebbe was accustomed to say these additional chapters after the daily Tehillim. It is said together with the congregation.
  1. Wishing each other a sweet new year:
  • We begin to wish each other a “Kesiva Vachasima Tovah” starting from Rosh Chodesh Elul. In a letter to a friend one must begin [or end] with a blessing for the person to have a good year. The Rebbe’s custom was to write the blessing at the end of the letter. One is to continue to do so until Rosh Hashanah.
  • From after Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippur one writes Chasima Vegmar Chasima Tova. From after Yom Kippur it is no longer our custom to write the blessing, although some do so until Hoshana Raba.
  1. Cheshbon Nefesh:
  • During the month of Elul one is to perform a general accounting of the soul [i.e. Cheshbon Hanefesh] and add in Torah, Tefilla and Tzedaka. The Rebbe Rayatz stated that the learning of Chassidus is not the main Avodah of the month of Elul but rather the Avodah of Cheshbon Nefesh. The Avodah of Cheshbon Nefesh is to be performed prior to the bedtime Shema, prior to sleep and prior to the morning prayers.
  1. Charity:
  • One is to increase in charity throughout the month of Elul. Communities should begin collecting money so all families will have their Yom Tov needs by the time the festival arrives. This includes funding for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkos. The Peri Chadash would distribute Mishlaoch Manos on Erev Rosh Hashanah so the poor are able to eat good foods for the Yom Tov meal.
  1. Checking ones Mezuzos and Tefillin:
  • It is customary to check one’s Tefillin and Mezuzos during the month of Elul if they have not been checked within the 12 months. One is to publicize this matter to others. Doing so helps draw down a Kesiva Vechasima Tova for the coming year.
  1. Ledavid Hashem Ori:
  • One begins saying the psalm of Ledavid Hashem Ori from [the first day of] Rosh Chodesh Elul, by Shacharis after Shir Shel Yom and by Mincha before Aleinu. On Rosh Chodesh the custom is to recite Ledavid only after Shir Shel Yom and Barchi Nafshi.
  • The psalm of Ledavid is recited daily until Hosha’ana Raba, including Hosha’ana Raba. It is not recited starting from Shemini Atzeres.
  • The Chabad custom by Shacharis is to recite the Kaddish only after saying both Shir Shel Yom and Ledavid. This Kaddish counts for both Ledavid and Shir Shel Yom. On Rosh Chodesh one says Shir Shel Yom, Barchi Nafshi, and Ledavid and only then is the Kaddish recited. Likewise by Mincha our custom is to recite Kaddish only after Ledavid and Aleinu and this Kaddish counts for both Aleinu and Ledavid.
  • If one is praying in a Shul that says Ledavid after Aleinu he is to follow the congregation. Thus he is to say Aleinu with the congregation and then say with them Ledavid.

 

  1. The 14th of Elul-Begin reviewing the laws of Sukkos:
  • 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. One should increase in learning these laws from two weeks before Sukkos thus following the opinion of Rav Shimon Ben Gamliel.
  1. 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. 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. One is to strengthen and establish new classes in Chassidus, add in the service of prayer, which is uniquely connected to the purpose of this Yeshiva, hold a Chassidic gathering in all Yeshivas of Tomchei Temimim, and open branches of Tomchei Temimim in all applicable areas.

 

  1. Chai Elul:
  • 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. On Chai Elul 5484/1724 [תפ׳׳ד] Achiyah HaShiloni revealed himself to the Baal Shem Tov. On Chai Elul 5494/1734 [תצ׳׳ד] the Baal Shem Tov revealed himself to the public and was no longer a hidden Tzaddik. The eighteenth of Elul is the birthday of the Alter Rebbe. He was born on Wednesday, the eighteenth of Elul, in the year 5505/1745. This Hebrew year spells out the word קה״ת which is the initials of the phrase קרני הוד תורה. The Rebbe Rashab and Rebbe Rayatz were accustomed to wish others Gut Yom Tov on this day. 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. One is to hold a Chassidic gathering in the local Shul on Chai 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 corresponds to the 12 months of previous year. Each day one should do Teshuva for its corresponding month.
  1. 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

 

  1. The 26th of Elul:
  • It is proper for every person to increase in Teshuvah within the four days prior to Rosh Hashanah.

 

  1. 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.
  1. The Torah reading of Parshas Ki Seitzei:
  • 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. [In such a case however one must have in mind to fulfill the Mitzvah of remembering Amaleik upon hearing the reading. The Baal Korei is to have in mind to fulfill his obligation.]
  • By the reading of Parshas Ki Seitzei one reads first Zeicher and then Zecher. One is to only repeat the word Zeicher and Zecher. One is to repeat Zeicher Zecher in both Shevii and the Haftorah.
  • Many Gedolei Yisrael have protested against noise making at the end of the reading of Amaleik.
  1. The Torah portion of Ki Savo:
  • In the sixth Aliyah the Torah portion discussing the curses is read. The custom is that the Baal Korei receives this Aliyah. He 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.
  • 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.
  1. Shabbos Mevarchim Tishrei
  • On the Shabbos before Rosh Hashanah we do not bless the coming month despite this being the custom on every Shabbos that precedes Rosh Chodesh.
  • The entire book of Tehillim is recited before Shacharis just as on any other Shabbos Mevarchim. One recites the paragraph of “Av Harachamim” prior to Musaf.
  • At the conclusion of the prayers one is to have a Chassidic gathering as is done on every Shabbos Mevarchim. This gathering is to include good and practical resolutions in matters of spiritual and physical charity.
  • The entire prayer of Vayehi Noam is customarily omitted on the Motzei Shabbos directly prior to any Holiday including Rosh Hashanah. If however Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbos, Vayehi Noam is recited the previous Motzei Shabbos.
  1. Selichos:
  • Selichos is said starting from the Sunday [Motzei Shabbos, immediately after midnight], of the week of, or the week prior to Rosh Hashanah. Being we need to say at least four days of Selichos before Rosh Hashanah, and we always start on Motzei Shabbos, therefore when Rosh Hashanah falls on Monday or Tuesday we begin saying Selichos from the Motzei Shabbos of the previous week. However when Rosh Hashanah falls between Thursday-Saturday we begin to saying it from the Motzei Shabbos before Rosh Hashanah.
  • The Chabad custom is to only say Selichos before Rosh Hashanah, while during Aseres Yimei Teshuva Selichos is not said. This is with exception to Tzom Gedalia in which the typical fast day Selichos is recited.
  • If there is a Chasan present by the Minyan, Selichos is recited without the confession prayer [of Ashamnu] and without Nefilas Apayim. Practically the Chasan is to be asked to leave the Shul in order to allow Ashamnu to be recited, although he himself is to omit it.
  • If Selichos is being recited prior to Alos and a Baal Bris is present, then the Selichos is recited regularly, together with the confession prayers. If Selichos is being recited after the time of Alos then it is disputed as to whether the confession prayer is recited, although the remainder of the Selichos is recited according to all. This dispute applies also when Selichos is being recited past sunrise.
  • The days of Selichos were one of the auspicious times that Chassidim would sing the Niggun of Daled Bavos.
  • Selichos is to be said by “Ashmuras Haboker” [which corresponds to the last three hours of nightfall]. Practically, the custom today is to say Selichos before Shacharis, after Alos Hashachar. The custom of the Rebbe was to recite Selichos in the morning much time after Ashmuras Haboker and sunrise. On the first night of Selichos, which is Motzei Shabbos, the custom is to begin Selichos immediately after midnight.
  • On Motzei Shabbos, Selichos is said while still wearing one’s Shabbos clothing.
  • According to Kabala it is forbidden to recite Selichos at night [prior to midnight].
  • If one could not say Selichos in the morning before Shacharis it may be said throughout the entire day, such as prior to Mincha.
  • The Chassidus of Shabbos Selichos was heard with completely different concentration. On Friday night of Shabbos Selichos Chassidim would diminish their amount of sleep as they were unable to sleep. A person did not find his place. They would go to Mikveh prior to daytime. In the Mikveh they would meet many others hurrying on their way. It was recognizable that this Shabbos was different than every other Shabbos. In one’s mind passes the thought “To you Hashem is righteousness and to us is the face of shame”. One would immerse with a broken heart and question himself whether this is an immersion of true repentance or is he immersing with the rodent in his hand. When they would pass Binyamin’s Shtibel they would hear the congregation saying Tehillim. The Tehillim of that Shabbos was also different then all the other Shabbasim.
  • It is customary to hold a Chassidic gathering on Motzei Shabbos in the hours prior to Selichos.
  • Selichos must be recited slowly and with concentration. It is better to recite a lesser amount of supplications, but with proper concentration, then a larger amount without concentration. Those that are accustomed to hastily recite the conclusion of Selichos are to nullify their custom.
  • One is to try to immerse in a Mikveh before Selichos. One who was unable to do so is [not to delay reciting Selichos with a Minyan and is rather] to immerse in a Mikveh after Selichos, before Davening.

 

  1. The 13 Attributes of mercy:
  • It is forbidden to recite the thirteen attributes without proper concentration. It is to be recited slowly and carefully. It is to be recited aloud. Some are accustomed to count the Midos with their fingers. Some are accustomed to picture each letter of each word in their mind while reciting it. One is to make a break between the words Vayikra Besheim and Hashem, and between the two names of Hashem Hashem.]
  • The 13 attributes may only be read together with the Minyan. Some write that this applies also for the entire paragraph of “Keil Melech Yosheiv”.
  • The custom is to stand while reciting it. One is not to lean while reciting it unless he is old or sick.
  • One is to recite the 13 attributes with his back slightly arched forward.
  • If one is behind the Minyan and the congregation has reached the 13 attributes of mercy the custom is to stop and read the 13 attributes together with the congregation, as is the law by Kaddish and Kedusha. This applies for everyone in the Shul, even if one is not part of the Minyan for Selichos. Nevertheless if one is in the midst of prayer, and is in an area that he cannot make an interval, then he is not to say it.
  • If one is Davening with a Minyan and the congregation has already recited the 13 attributes of mercy he may not recite it when he reaches that point, as the 13 attributes of mercy may only be recited together with the actual Minyan.
  • It is permitted to recite the thirteen attributes in the Torah reading tune even if one is reciting it alone. Nevertheless, many are accustomed to avoid doing so and they thus completely omit it when a Minyan is not present. Practically, the recorded Chabad custom is not to say it.
  1. The Seder of Selichos:
  • The Nussach and Seder of the Selichos according to Chabad custom was arranged by the Rebbe based on a directive of the Rebbe Rayatz. The Chabad Nussach of Selichos follows the Nussach of the Machzor Kol Bo and in general is similar to the custom of Lita, Risan and Zamut. The order of Selichos is similar to the order of Davening. First one recites a psalm of praise [Ashreiy] which is followed by half Kaddish. The Selichos are then begun which corresponds to Shemoneh Esrei. The Chazan recites aloud the end of the first paragraph starting from the words “Haneshama Lach”. At the conclusion one recites Kaddish Tiskabel which corresponds to the Kaddish recited after Shemoneh Esrei.
  • It is not our custom to perform Nefilas Apayim during Selichos.
  • The custom is to open the ark and stand for the recital of Shema Koleinu. It is recited verse after verse with the congregation repeating after the Chazan. It is said in this format until the verse of Al Taazveinu.
  • The Chazan recites the full Kaddish Tiskabel at the conclusion of Selichos. This applies even if the Minyan plans to Daven Shacharis immediately afterwards.
  • One is to learn Torah prior to saying Selichos. The content to be learned is matters which pertain to practical Halacha. Likewise one is to study the Mamar of “Lecha Havayah Hatzedaka” [printed in the beginning of the Selichos] or at the very least its beginning and end. On the first night of Selichos this to be learned prior to midnight.
  • One is to give charity prior to Selichos. On the 1st night of Selichos this is to be done only after midnight.
  • The third day of Selichos is an auspicious occasion, and should be utilized appropriately.
  • The custom is to stand while reciting Selichos. This especially applies when the ark is open, when the thirteen attributes are recited [and upon saying Ashamnu]. Nevertheless if it is difficult for one to stand, then he may be seated with exception to when the thirteen attributes [and Ashamnu] is recited.
  1. A Minyan:
  • The congregation is to delay beginning Ashreiy until a Minyan has gathered, in order to be able to say the Kaddish before Selichos. If they cannot wait for a Minyan to arrive then they are to recite Ashreiy, omit Kaddish and begin Lecha Havaya Hatzedaka.
  • If one is saying Selichos without a Minyan, he is to omit the 13 attributes of mercy. One is to omit the words starting from Vayaavor. Some write that one is to also omit the entire paragraph of “Keil Melech Yosheiv”.
  • It is not our custom in such a case to recite the 13 attributes of mercy in the tune of the Torah reading.
  • One is to omit the Aramaic parts said within Selichos.
  • One does not omit the verse of “Uzechor Hayom Bris Shlosh Esrei” upon saying Selichos without a Minyan.
  • If a congregation did not have a minyan when Selichos began and later they achieved a Minyan, they are to stop to say Kaddish upon the arrival of the Minyan.
  • If the congregation began Selichos with a Minyan and upon finishing they no longer have a Minyan, they are nevertheless to say Kaddish with Tiskabel so long as there are at least six people which have remained.
  1. Tallis:
  • The Chazan is to recite Selichos with a Tallis. This applies even if a Bochur is the Chazan for Selichos.
  • If it is still before the allowable time to say a blessing over a Tallis, the Chazan should borrow a Tallis from another person and wear it without a blessing. Thus on the first night of Selichos, which is recited at night, the Chazan should have another person bring a Tallis to Shul and he should borrow it from him. He should not use the Shul’s Tallis. If the only Tallis available is the Tallis of the Shul or a Tallis that he owns then he is to wear it without a blessing. If the time of Alos arrives in the midst of Selichos then the Chazan is to stop and recite a blessing over the Tallis, shaking the fringes of the Tallis prior to reciting the blessing.
  • When saying Selichos during the day, the Chazan is to recite a blessing over the Tallis prior to wearing it. If however the Chazan borrows the Tallis from another person he is not required to recite a blessing. If however one borrows the Tallis of the Shul then a blessing is to be recited.
  1. Avel
  • An Avel that is within Shiva may not leave his home to recite Selichos with the Minyan. The above however is with exception to Erev Rosh Hashanah.
  • At the house of an Avel, Selichos is recited without the confession prayer [of Ashamnu] and without Nefilas Apayim.

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