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Special Customs for the 25th of Elul (TODAY)

The 25th day of Elul commemorates the first of the six days of creation. Adam and Hava were created on the sixth day of creation, Rosh Hashanah, and thus the first day was 25 Elul. On this day, God brought a special "light of kindness" into existence, and this is thus a very auspicious and significant occasion. It is therefore proper to treat this day with special sanctity.

Rav Benayahu Shemueli (contemporary) outlines several specific customs that should be observed on this day (listen to audio recording for precise citation). He writes that before sundown on the evening before 25 Elul, one should immerse in a Mikveh. He should first immerse for the purpose of eliminating the Ru’ah Ra’a (evil spirit), and then a second time as a Tikun (rectification) for the sin of anger. Thereafter, one should immerse five times corresponding to the five times the word "Or" ("light") is mentioned in the story of creation, thereby bringing upon oneself the special "light" of Hesed that abounds on this special day. One should be especially careful to avoid anger throughout the night and day of 25 Elul, and also to abstain from idle chatter. It is improper to fast on 25 Elul; to the contrary, one should eat a meal with bread and meat both at night and during the day, and recite Birkat Ha’mazon after each meal with special intensity. (This year, 5771, the 25th of Elul falls on Shabbat, when we in any event eat special meals.) One should also eat sweet treats on this day, as we commemorate the beginning of the world’s creation and thus hope to bring sweetness into the new year.

It is proper to give large amounts of charity on 25 Elul, as well. If it falls on Shabbat, as it does this year, one can pledge charity in the synagogue. The husband or wife should light five special candles on this day corresponding to the five "lights" of kindness that came into existence on the first day of creation. If this day falls on Shabbat, these special candles should be lit before the onset of Shabbat.

If 25 Elul falls on a day when the Torah is read in the synagogue, one should try to receive an Aliya to the Torah.

Each day from 25 Elul through Rosh Hashanah, one should read the verses in the Torah that speak about that day’s creation. On 25 Elul, one reads the verses that tell of the first day, on 26 Elul one reads about the second day, and so on, such that on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, one reads the verses of the sixth day of creation. On the second day of Rosh Hashanah, one reads the verses of "Vayechulu." There are special Bakashot (prayers) that should be recited before and after each day’s reading.

Although the entirety of the month of Elul is an especially auspicious time for repentance and Kedusha, there is unique significance to the final week, when we commemorate the world’s creation. This is a time of special divine kindness, and we must take advantage of this unique opportunity by observing these customs to the best of our ability, and, more generally, enhancing our devotion to Torah and Misvot. As mentioned, this year (5771) the 25th of Elul falls on Shabbat, making it even easier for us to observe these customs and to focus our attention on matters of Kedusha on this special day.