Wednesday nights - Rav Benzion's Tanya shiur..........Please continue to daven for the good health of the Rebbe (Yechiel Michel ben Devorah Leah) and Rebbetzin (Feiga bas Sarah).

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Minhagim: The Month of Elul

1) Many have the custom to recite the order of Yom Kippur Katan on Erev Rosh Chodesh. There are those who don't normally say it except on Erev Rosh Chodesh Nisan and/or Elul. The minhag of the Rebbe is not to say it even then.

2) Another widespread custom is to say Psalm 27, "L'dovid Hashem Ori" from the first day of Elul, and to continue reciting it until Simchas Torah. There are various minhagim as to when exactly L'dovid is to be said. The minhag by chassidim is to say it at the end of Shacharis and Mincha. In Hornosteipel, as well as many other Ukrainian sects of chassidus (Chernobyl, Skver, Rizhin, Breslev, and others) the minhag is to recite L'dovid immediately after Tachanun, or after the repetition of the Shemonah Esrei on a day when Tachanun is omitted, prior to the half-kaddish. This minhag is also mentioned in the Radviller Siddur and from there in Tefilah Yesharah. The Mishmeres Shalom (Koidanov) and the Likutei Mahariach both praise the minhag of reciting it then.
In the Rebbe's shul, Beth Yehudah, the original Hornosteipeler minhag is not followed. Instead, they recite L'dovid between the Shir Shel Yom and Kaveh. (Interestingly, that is how it is written in Erchei Yehoshua (Kantikuziva/Monostritch) and in the Siddur HaRav (Baal Hatanya).

Some information about the mekor: The Mateh Efraim connects the recitation of L'dovid during Elul and Tishrei to the Medrash Shocher Tov, 27, which says that "ori" (my light)  refers to Rosh Hashana, "yishi" (my salvation) refers to Yom Kippur, and "ki yitzpineni b'suko" (For He will hide me in His shelter) refers to Sukkos. There is no reference in the Medrash to actually say the psalm during this time, however. There is some discussion that the source may actually be the Chemdas Hayamim, a controversial sefer on kabbalah, but it seems that the earliest known source is a sefer called Sefer Shem Tov Katan, by a Rabbi Binyamin Beinish Hakohen, which was printed in Salzbach in 1705 (about 25 years before the Chemdas Hayamim). There he says to say L'dovid along with a set of other prayers (13 midos, etc. like selichos) right after Shemonah Esrei. These prayers should be recited on Mondays and Thursdays during Elul and every day during Aseres Y'mei Teshuvah. Right before that, however, he speaks about a seemingly separate inyan which is to say L'dovid every day, morning and evening, specifically during this period. The implication of the Shem Tov Katan, along with the Siddur Reb Shabsi and the Hafla'ah in Panim Yafos, is there is a connection between the fact that Hashem's Name is mentioned 13 timed in L'dovid and the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy . Therefore, some say, that like Tachanun, it should be said right after Shemoneh Esrei. (See here and here.) See below a copy of the Shem Tov Katan (from the 1891 edition):

On the shaar-blat of the Shem Tov Katan, it says that the content of the sefer was collected from the words of the Arizal and the Ramban. It is safe to say that this minhag has a holy mekor. (I have a copy of the original 1706 edition but the above version is easier to read.)

3) During the month of Elul, the custom throughout Klal Yisroel is to blow the shofar after Shacharis. The minhag of the Rebbe is to start from the second day of Rosh Chodesh, the first day of Elul. We blow tekiah, shevarim-teruah, tekiah, known by the acronym, tshr"t. For an explanation as to why we sound the shofar during Elul, see Tur, O"C, 581. See here for a maamer from the Rebbe, shlit"a, explaining another reason, "al derech avodah".

4) Even though the custom is to generally refrain from making a chasunah at the end of the month, during Elul there is no problem in doing so. Because these days are days of Mercy and special closeness with Hashem, the entire month is considered successful and auspicious.

more to come...

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