Rosh Chodesh Elul: The Shofar will be sounded every morning service except on Shabbat.
Torah Reading: Re’eh(Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17)
Haftarah: (Isaiah 54:11-55:5)
The summary of the Torah Parshiot (portions)…
Destruction of places of idolatry, prohibition of private altars, prohibition against eating blood, attitude to false prophets and seducers, prohibition of heathen abuses, clean and unclean animals, tithing, the year of release and the three pilgrimage festivals are read this Sabbath.
Observing the three pilgrimage festivals.
The Torah required that every Jew was to appear in Jerusalem on three occasions during the year – Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot (Deuteronomy 16:16). The Torah instructs that one should not come empty-handed, but should bring with him three animals for three different sacrifices. Today, Jews expected to celebrate the festivals with the same flavor an ruach/spirit as in the Temple times. The only difference is that we have no sacrifices today. Donations of righteous actions (charity) or to institutions of learning, or synagogues are the present – day equivalent of the traditional festive sacrifices.
“Three times a year every one of your males will appear before G-d.” (Deuteronomy 16:16)
The Torah states, “You shall not harden your heart, but you shall surely open wide your hand to him” (Deuteronomy 15:7-8). In Judaism, giving charity is considered a virtue. In assisting the poor, one must never do so grudgingly or half-heartedly. In addition to giving financial support, one must also extend a hand of wholehearted encouragement.
Before a Jew does an action, the person recites a blessing except when giving money to a person in need. This mitzvah is the only one that the prayer is recited after because it may be to save an individual’s life.
If you noted that the festivals started with Passover and not the Holy Day of Rosh HaShanah, it is because the Israelites became a nation at Mount Sinai after their exodus from Egypt. Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot are therefore considered a festival and not a High Holiday.
May the New Month of Elul with the sounding blasts from the Shofar awaken each of us that the year is coming to a close and the High Holidays are approaching. Each of us are reminded to look at the days and months that passed, and how each of us may do even more blessings and bring more light to people and the world. May the Lord show His kindness and mercy to each of us in the new month, Elul.
Rabbi Helene Ainbinder