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21-27 Tishri 5776
4-10 October 2015

Attributes of the month of Tishri: Ruling permutation of the letters of HAVAYAH: VAV KEH YOD KEH, contained in the final Hebrew letters of the words of the verse vayir'U otaH sareY par'oH, "and the ministers of Pharaoh saw her" (Genesis 11:29). The month's corresponding letter is: LAMED; Human attribute: COITION; Body Part: GALL BLADDER; Tribe: JOSEPH; Constellation: MOZNA'IM (Libra, the Scales).
Everyone who recites Psalm 27, "HaShem is my light", morning and evening from the beginning of Elul until the end of Succot is assured he will live out his years in goodness and pleasantness, and he removes from himself all the accusing forces and nullifies all harsh and evil decrees, and he will win his case in the Judgment.
-- ARI

Saturday night-Sunday 3-4 October / 21 Tishri
Many follow the custom of staying awake for much or all of the night of Hoshana Rabba, when the entire book of Deuteronomy and the entire book of Psalms are read. After the morning Shacharit prayer and full Hallel, it is customary for all those in the synagogue who have the Four Kinds to circuit the Torah reading desk seven times while reciting the Hoshana prayers for salvation, after which the congregation offer prayers for redemption, rainfall and livelihood. At the conclusion of these prayers it is an ancient custom instituted by the prophets to take five willow branches and beat them five times on the floor.
In the afternoon of Hoshana Rabbah it is proper to partake of some refreshment with the appropriate blessings in the Succah prior to leaving for the last time to go back into the house. On leaving the Succah it is fitting to recite the special prayer printed in the festival prayer book. Some have the custom of kissing the very walls of the Succah as they leave as an expression of love for the mitzvah.

According to an oral tradition from the Baal Shem Tov, one should make every effort to pray with proper concentration on Hoshana Rabbah, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, and this is conducive to prayer with proper concentration throughout the year.

Sunday night-Monday 4-5 October / 22 Tishri
SHEMINI ATZERET Eighth day of Solemn Assembly (Israel & Diaspora)
Both Israel and Diaspora communities celebrate the festival of Shemini Atzeret today, with Yizkor prayers for the departed and the Prayer for Rain. However, while in Israel Simchat Torah is also celebrated today, Diaspora communities will celebrate Simchat Torah separately on Monday night and Tuesday. Today's Shemini Atzeret Torah reading in the Diaspora is Deuteronomy 14:22-16:17 & Numbers 29:35-30:1 and the Haftara is I Kings 8:54-9:1.
In Israel
today is Simchat Torah. The Torah Reading is VE-ZOS HABRACHAH, Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12. Additional reading: Genesis 1:1-2:3. Maftir: Numbers 29:35-30:1. Haftara: Joshua 1:1-18. Thus the communities in Israel today conclude the book of Deuteronomy and thereby complete the annual cycle of the Torah reading, after which a new cycle begins immediately with the reading of the first chapter of Genesis. Both on Sunday night after the evening service and on Monday morning before the Torah reading, it is customary in Israel to bring all the Torah scrolls in the synagogue out of the ark and to dance with them in a series of seven Hakafot ("circuits") around the synagogue. It is appropriate to take advantage of this joyous time for our own prayers in our own words "to learn, teach, guard and practice" the Torah. Many communities hold additional Hakafot on Yom Tov afternoon and on the following evening.

Monday night-Tuesday 5-6 October / 23 Tishri
In Israel, where today is the first weekday after the conclusion of the festival season, it is proper to draw the spirit of the Tishri holidays into the rest of the year by observing Issru Chag with festive dress and meals.
In the Diaspora, Simchat Torah is celebrated today. Torah Reading for Simchas Torah: VE-ZOS HABRACHAH, Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12. Additional reading: Genesis 1:1-2:3. Maftir: Numbers 29:35-30:1. Haftara: Joshua 1:1-18. See yesterday's entry for Simchat Torah customs.

Wednesday 7 October / 24 Tishri
Diaspora: ISSRU CHAG
In the Diaspora today is Issru Chag. It is proper to draw the spirit of the Tishri holidays into the rest of the year by observing Issru Chag with festive dress and meals.
Today is the yahrzeit of Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of Polonnoye (d. 1784) leading student of the Baal Shem Tov and author of the first chassidic work, the Toldos Yaakov Yosef. Today is also the yahrzeit of Rabbi Chaim Zanvill Abramovitz, the saintly Ribnitzer (or Rimnitzer) Rebbe (1902-95).

Wednesday night-Thursday 7-8 October / 25 Tishri
Today is the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev (1740-1809), the great Chassidic luminary and beloved advocate of the Jewish people.

Friday night-Saturday 9-10 October / 27 Tishri
After the conclusion of the season of the High Holidays and Succot, this is the first "regular" Shabbat of the New Year, and it is fitting to celebrate with special joy in order to draw the holiness of the beginning of the year into its continuation. The weekly Torah Reading is Genesis. 1.1-6.8.
Today is Shabbat Mevorachim when we bless the coming month of Marcheshvan. Rosh Chodesh will be on Monday night-Tuesday-Wednesday 12-14 October. The Molad (junction of the sun and moon) will be on Monday October 13 at 5:51 and 10 halakim a.m.

Let us put special joy into our celebration of this Shabbat, because the way we celebrate Shabbat Bereishit sets the tone for all the Shabbatot of the new year.

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Azamra means "I will sing" (Psalms 146:2)

"And the way to sing the song of joy is by seeking the good in all people, especially in ourselves. Each good point is one more note in the song of life!"

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov