Halacha for Sunday 17 Elul 5780 September 6 2020

Preparing for the Day of Judgment

During the days preceding Rosh Hashanah, every single member of the Jewish nation must contemplate his/her actions and perform some sort of self-introspection in order to ascertain how one can improve one’s actions and Mitzvah observance so as to guarantee one’s self powerful defenders on the Day of Judgment.

The Meaning of the Word “Elul”
Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that the word “Elul” is similar to the Aramaic word “Ve’Alilu,” which is the Aramaic translation of the verse which is said regarding the spies sent to the Land of Israel, “And they spied the land.” This means that “Elul” connotes searching through and probing one’s actions. During the month of Elul, it is the custom of the holy Jewish nation to probe their deeds, for these days are auspicious for atonement of sin, attaining full repentance, and reaching loftier levels of spirituality and service of Hashem.

Prayer During the Month of Elul
Certainly, praying copiously and repenting for one’s sins are extremely beneficial for every individual and these things will defend an individual during the upcoming Days of Judgment of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. These will be one’s guarantors that one will be inscribed in the books of life, wealth, satisfaction, and the fulfillment of all of one’s requests.

One must awaken himself from the slumber which comes along with one’s daily routine throughout life; one should stop and think how much we invest on increasing the quality of our physical lives by purchasing new cars or homes, focusing on obtaining only the finest culinary delights, and going on all sorts of trips and vacations. All of this is nonsense compared to the Heavenly key to advancing one’s physical and spiritual status as one through deep and heartfelt prayer to Hashem during these Days of Awe. Similarly, Hagaon Chazon Ish writes that a person can improve his situation much more through prayer than through any other natural means that he believes may assist him.

Repentance, Prayer, and Charity
Our Sages teach us in the Talmud Yerushalmi (Ta’anit, Chapter 2), “Rabbi Elazar says, three things nullify harsh decrees: Prayer, charity, and repentance.” He continues to bring proofs to this idea from the scriptures. Thus, one should practice these three things, i.e. prayer, charity, and repentance, profusely during these days, as the hymnist writes, “Repentance, prayer, and charity shall annul the harshness of the decree.” The source for this is the aforementioned Talmud Yerushalmi. Maran zt”l writes that although in previous generations, people would fast many times during these days in the spirit of “repentance,” nevertheless, in our times when it is difficult for people to fast, one should increase one’s donation of charity instead. Indeed, it is better to give more charity in our times than to fast, for by fasting, one decreases his service of Heaven (for fasting weakens the body).

We have already mentioned several times that one should take care to pass along charity funds to responsible individuals so that they will in turn dispense these funds to truly needy people and one should not rely on every individual regarding such matters, even if one seemingly comes with the recommendation of the generation’s leading Torah leaders.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Making Toast on a Hotplate on Shabbat

Question: May one place a pita or a slice of bread on a hotplate on Shabbat in order to turn it into hard and crunchy toast? Answer: There are two prohibitions we must discuss with regards to our question of making toast on Shabbat out of bread that was already baked before Shabbat. The first ......

Read Halacha

Sitting on Food Items

Question: Is it correct that one may not sit on top of a box containing food or beverages? Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Berachot (50b) states that it is forbidden to act in a degrading manner towards food. Thus, one may not, for instance, use a piece of cake to wipe up a drink that spilled on t......

Read Halacha

Salting Cucumbers on Shabbat

Question: Is it correct that one may not put salt on cucumbers on Shabbat? Answer: The root of this question lies in the fact that with regards to many Torah laws, we rule that “pickling is tantamount to cooking” meaning that a pickled food is considered like a cooked food. Thus, just......

Read Halacha

Washing Dishes on Shabbat Night and Pouring Water on Dirty Dishes

Question: Upon the conclusion of the Shabbat night meal, may one immediately wash the dishes for the Shabbat day meal or should this only be done during the day closer to the start of the meal? Also, is it permissible to pour water onto soiled dishes (which one no longer needs for Shabbat) so that i......

Read Halacha


The Law Regarding a Woman Who Forgets to Recite the Blessings of the Torah

We have explained in the previous Halacha that if one forgets to recites the Blessings of the Torah and only realizes this after one has concluded Shacharit prayers, one may no longer recite these blessings, for one has already fulfilled his obligation with the “Ahavat Olam” blessing rec......

Read Halacha

The Order for Lighting Shabbat and Chanukah Candles

There is a disagreement among the Rishonim as to the order of lighting Shabbat and Chanukah candles on Erev Shabbat Chanukah. The Ba’al Halachot Gedolot (commonly referred to as “Behag”) is of the opinion that Chanukah candles must be lit before Shabbat candles because women cu......

Read Halacha

Question: May one recite the Amida prayer in front of a curtain (covering the Aron Kodesh) which is adorned with various designs?

Answer: The Rambam writes in one of his responses (Freiman edition, Chapter 20): “It is incorrect to pray in front of garments with designs on them, even if the designs are not protruding. We usually close our eyes when it happens that we must pray in front of a wall or garment adorned with de......

Read Halacha

The Law Regarding One Who Forgets to Recite the Morning Blessings

The Morning Blessings (“Birkot Ha’Shachar”) are the blessings recited every morning beginning from the “Elohai Neshama” blessing until the end of the Blessings of the Torah. Both men and women must recite these blessings, as we have discussed in the laws of the Morning ......

Read Halacha