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A Month of Mercy

In the generation of the Exodus from Egypt, Moses ascended Mount Sinai three times. The first was to receive the Torah. The second was to plead with G-d for his forgiveness, after the Jewish people sinned in worshipping the golden calf.

Then, on the first day of Elul -- the month immediately preceding Tishrei -- Moses ascended the mountain a third time, to invoke G-d's abundant mercy for our complete atonement. He remained there for forty days, until Yom Kippur, when G-d cleansed us completely, as though we had never sinned.

Since then, these days are marked as a special period of Divine Grace, during which our sincere prayers are sure to find favor in the eyes of G-d.

Elul Observances

The Shofar is sounded every weekday morning, except on the last day of Elul Erev Rosh Hashana. Psalm 27 (see below) is added to the daily morning and afternoon prayers until Hoshaana Rabba.

It is customary to give additional charity each weekday. On the Saturday night before Rosh Hashana, after midnight and on the following weekday mornings including the day of Erev Rosh Hashana, Selichot (special penitential prayers) are recited.

During Elul, G-d -- the `King of the Universe' -- is available to anyone who turns to Him... and He graciously accepts our petitions and grants our requests.

Elul is an appropriate time to reflect on our actions and attitudes of the previous year, and resolve to correct our shortcomings.

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