This week at Azamra
9 Tishri 5781 / 27 September 2020

Torah Calendar

28 Elul 5780-30 Tishri 5781
September 17-October 18, 2020

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Attributes of the month of Elul: Ruling permutation of the letters of HAVAYAH: KEH KEH VAV YOD, contained in the final Hebrew letters of the words of the verse ootzedakaH tihyeH lanOO kI "and it shall be righteousness to us when..." (Deut 6:25). The month's corresponding letter is: YOD; Human attribute: ACTION; Body Part: LEFT HAND ; Tribe: GAD; Constellation: BETULAH (Virgo, the Maiden).

Wednesday night-Thursday 16-17 September / 28 Elul

Anniversary of the death of King Saul and his three sons at the battle of Mt Gilboa.

Thursday night-Friday 17-18 September / 29 Elul
Eve of Rosh Hashanah

It is customary to rise in the small hours of the night for the lengthy pre-dawn Selichot, known as Brit Yitzhak ("the Covenant of Isaac"), the last service of supplicatory prayers before the Day of Judgment. At the conclusion of the morning service, the Shofar is not blown. It is customary to formally annul any vows one may have made: this is done before a Beit Din of three adult males (not necessarily rabbis) according to the formula printed in the Selichot and Rosh Hashanah Machzor. Many fast today until after midday. It is customary to pray at the graves of the Tzaddikim and to give a sum of money to a righteous person for Pidyon Nefesh, "redemption of the soul". There is an ancient custom of purchasing a knife on the eve of Rosh Hashanah as a propitious segulah for livelihood. Where possible males should immerse in a mikveh in preparation for Rosh Hashanah.

"Finished are the old year and its curses!
Let the New Year and its blessings begin!"
Leshanah Tova Tikatevu Vetichatemu -- May you be inscribed and sealed for a Good Year!

The Molad of Tishri is on Thursday 17 September at 02:38 & 17 chalakim p.m.

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).

Friday night-Saturday 18-19 September / 1 Tishri 5769
First day of Rosh Hashanah, New Year

Information about the customs of Rosh Hashanah is widely available in the festival prayer books and online (e.g. at and and details have therefore not been included in this diary.

Today was the sixth day of the Six Days of Creation. The waters of the flood dried and Noah removed the cover from the ark. Sarah, Rachel and Hannah mother of Samuel were all granted children on this day, and Isaac's prayer for Rebecca to give birth was accepted. Sarah was born and died on this day. Isaac blessed Jacob, and Joseph was released from prison. Today is the anniversary of the death from mutilation of Rabbi Amnon of Mainz (author of the Rosh Hashanah prayer Unetanneh Tokef). In 1554 the Talmud and its commentaries were burned in Rome on orders from the pope.

Saturday night-Sunday 19-20 September / 2 Tishri
Second day of Rosh Hashanah

Even though all the other Torah-ordained festivals are celebrated for only one day in Israel while Diaspora communities celebrate them for two days, Rosh Hashanah is celebrated for two days even in Israel.

Monday 21 September / 3 Tishri
Fast of Gedaliah

The 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 Monday and is observed until nightfall. Selichot are recited today and every weekday until Yom Kippur.
Today is the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Avraham Abele Gombiner, the Magen Avraham (c. 1633-83), author of one of the most important commentaries on Shulchan Aruch, and of Rabbi Yisrael Lipshitz (1782-1860), author of the Tiferet Yisrael commentary on the Mishneh.

Tuesday night-Wednesday 22-23 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.

Thursday night-Friday 24-25 September / 7 Tishri

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

Friday night-Saturday 25-26 September / 8 Tishri
Shabbat SHUVAH, Parshat HA'AZINU

Torah Reading: Deuteronomy 32: 1-52. Special Haftara for Shabbat Shuvah: Hosea 14, 2-10; Michah 7, 18-20; Joel 2, 11-27.
At the Shabbat meals many have the custom of dipping the Challah in honey as on Rosh Hashanah, and do the same at the festive meals before and after Yom Kippur, on Succot, Hoshana Rabbah and Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah.
It is customary for the rabbi of the community to deliver a special address this Shabbat on the theme of Teshuvah (Repentance) and other timely subjects.
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).

Saturday night-Sunday 26-27 September / 9 Tishri
Eve of Yom Kippur

It is a mitzvah to eat plentifully both on Saturday night and particularly during the day on Sunday in preparation for the coming fast of Yom Kippur. Many endeavor to recite the Erev Yom Kippur Selichot around dawn, following them with Kaparot ("atonements") as found at the beginning of the Yom Kippur Machzor (prayer-book). While the author of the Shulchan Arukh (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, the author of the Ashkenazi glosses on Shulchan Arukh, 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.

Sunday night-Monday 27-28 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 carrying the second Tablets of Stone. Yom Kippur is also the anniversary of the martyrdom of Rabbi Akiva at the hands of the Romans.
After breaking the Yom Kippur fast after nightfall on Monday 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.

Tuesday 29 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.

In the days leading up to the festival of Succot it is necessary to build one's Succah and 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. It is advisable to procure the Aravot 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.)

Friday 2 October / 14 Tishri
Eve of Succot

There is no better preparation for the coming festival of Succot than to provide food and other festival needs for the needy, and thus it is customary to give charity generously today. Prior to the beginning of Yom Tov/Shabbat, one should prepare the Succah for the evening meal. Those in Diaspora are also advised to prepare the Etrog, Lulav, Hadass and Aravot even though they are not taken until Sunday morning, because the Lulav, Hadass and Aravot must be tied together (symbolizing unity) and tying a knot is forbidden on Yom Tov though a bow is permissible.

Friday night-Saturday 2-3 October / 15 Tishri
First day of the Festival of Succot

On the first night of Succot it is a Torah mitzvah to eat bread in the Succah (corresponding to the mitzvah of eating Matzah on the first night of Pesach) in memory of the Exodus from Egypt and the Clouds of Glory with which G-d encompassed Israel in the wilderness. Information about the laws, customs and prayers of Succot is available in the festival prayer book (Machzor) and on Internet.

Because today is Shabbat, the Arba Minim (Four Kinds: Lulav, Etrog, Hadass and Arava) are not taken today. It is customary to read Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) in the synagogue prior to the Torah reading.The Haftara reading in the synagogue is Zechariah chapter 14, which speaks about the War of Gog and Magog, which will take place on the festival of Succot.
The first day of Succot is the anniversary of the birth and death of the patriarch Jacob.

Saturday night 3 October / 16 Tishri

In memory of the Temple ceremony of Simchat Beit Hasho'evah, drawing pure water from the Shiloah spring on the southern slope of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for the unique water libation on the Temple altar each day of Succot, it is customary on each of the nights of Chol HaMoed Succot to gather in the synagogue for the recital of Psalms 120-134 to the accompaniment of music, song, dance and joy. It is said that Jonah came to prophecy through the joy of the Temple Simchat Beit Hasho'evah. Observance of Simchat Beit Hasho'evah starts in Israel tonight and in Diaspora tomorrow night, Sunday 4 October.

Saturday night-Sunday 3-4 October / 16 Tishri
Second day of Succot

In Israel today is the first day of Chol HaMoed, the intermediate days of the festival, when necessary labors are permitted. However, in the Diaspora today must be observed as the second day of Yom Tov. Both in Israel and the Diaspora, the Four Kinds are taken today. Many endeavor to make the blessing over the Four Kinds as early after the sunrise as possible, even before one's morning prayers, preferably in the Succah.

Monday night-Tuesday 5-6 October / 18 Tishri
Fourth day of Succot

Today is the Yahrzeit of the outstanding Chassidic luminary, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810). His followers customarily gather for a festive meal (usually held in the late afternoon on Tuesday, corresponding to the time of the Rebbe's ascent from this world) accompanied by singing and dancing and words of encouragement to practice his teachings.

Tuesday night-Wednesday 6-7 October / 19 Tishri

Today is the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman, the Gaon of Vilna (1720-97).

Thursday night-Friday 8-9 October / 21 Tishri
Hoshana Rabbah

Many follow the custom of staying awake for all or most 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 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, after which the congregation offer prayers for redemption and for rainfall. 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 Hashana 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.

Friday night-Saturday 9-10 October / 22 Tishri
Shemini Atzeret, "Eighth day of Solemn Assembly"
Simchat Torah (Israel)

Both Israel and Diaspora communities celebrate today as Shemini Atzeret, with Yizkor prayers for the departed and the Prayer for Rain, but the Diaspora communities celebrate Simchat Torah separately on Saturday night and Sunday. The Shemini Atzeret Torah reading in Diaspora communities 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 and the Torah Reading is Ve-zot 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 conclude the book of Deuteronomy and thereby complete the annual cycle of the Torah reading, after which we immediately initiate the new cycle with the reading of the first chapter of Genesis.

Both on Friday night after the evening service and on Shabbat morning before the Torah reading, it is customary 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 from the heart 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.

Saturday night-Sunday 10-11 October / 23 Tishri
Issru Chag (Israel); Simchat Torah (Diaspora)

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 (in Diaspora): Ve-zot 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.

Monday 12 October / 24 Tishri
Issru Chag (Diaspora)
Isru Chag (Diaspora)

It is proper for those in the Diaspora to draw the spirit of the Tishri holidays into the days of the year by observing Isru Chag today 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 book, the Toldos Yaakov Yosef, and of Rabbi Chaim Zanvill Abramovitz, the saintly Ribnitzer (or Rimnitzer) Rebbe (1902-95).

Monday night-Tuesday 12-13 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.

Thursday 15 October / 27 Tishri
The usual Yom Kippur Katan" fast and special prayer service preceeding Rosh Chodesh are not observed on the eve of Rosh Chodesh of the months of Cheshvan, Tevet, Iyar and Tishri (ChaT'AT).

Friday night-Saturday 16-17 October / 29 Tishri
Torah Reading: Gen. 1.1-6.8. Special Haftara for when Rosh Chodesh falls on Sunday: I Samuel 20:18-42.
Today is Shabbat Mevorachim when we bless the coming month of Marcheshvan. The Molad (junction of the sun and moon) will be on Thursday October 17 night at 03:23 a.m.
Today is the anniversary of the death of Shimon HaTzaddik (d. 311 B.C.E.), High Priest and last of the Men of the Great Assembly (Avot 1:1), whose grave in Jerusalem is visited by great numbers of people on this day.

Let's 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.

Saturday night-Sunday 17-18 October / 30 Tishri
First day of Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) Marcheshvan

It is appropriate to celebrate Rosh Chodesh with a festive meal, and fasting is forbidden.

Attributes of the month of Marcheshvan: Ruling permutation of the letters of HAVAYAH: VAV KEH KEH YOD, contained in the initial Hebrew letters of the words of the verse OOd'vash Hayom Hazeh YKVK, "and honey. This day HaShem..." (Deut 26:15-16). The month's corresponding letter is: NUN; Human attribute: SMELL; Body Part: INTESTINE; Tribe: LEVY; Constellation: AKRAV (Scorpio, the Scorpion).

Sunday night-Monday 18-19 October / 1 Marcheshvan
Second day of Rosh Chodesh (New Moon) Marcheshvan

King Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem was completed on this day (I Kings 6:38), although it was not inaugurated until the following Tishri.

The sum of the mathematical value of the Hebrew letters of Marcheshvan (Mem 40 + Reish 200 + Chet 8 + Shin 300 + Vav 6 + Nun 50 + 1 for the kolel + 6 units for each of the Hebrew letters of the name) is 611, the same as that of the letters of the word Torah (Tav 400 + Vav 6 + Reish 200 + Heh 5 = 611). This is a sign that we should increase our Torah study during the long nights of the winter.

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