Welcome to our special CHAI ELUL/Selichot issue.
The 18th day of Elul, which starts a 12-day countdown (one day per month of the old year) till Rosh Hashana, is also the anniversary of:
the birth of the Baal Shem Tov (articles #2,7),
and of the Baal HaTanya (#1,4),
and the yahrzeit of the 16th century master Kabbalist, the Maharal of Prague (#6),
as well as the date on which the Besht revealed the Chasidic movement, in 1734,
On Saturday night Askenazic Jews start the distinctive pre-Rosh Hashanah Selichot/Forgiveness prayers (see article #3 - Sephardim have been reciting them for two weeks already).
In addition, article #1 provides excellent preparatory material for Rosh Hashana.
Next week: Our special Rosh Hashana 5782 issue.