Welcome to our special CHAI ELUL/Selichot issue.
The 18th day of Elul, 'Chai' Elul, inaugurates a 12-day countdown (one day per month of the old year) till Rosh Hashana. (articles #4, 5), on Shabbat eve, Sept. 15 .
Chai Elul 1698 was the birth date of the Baal Shem Tov (articles #1-3) and, in 1745, that of Rabbi Shneur-Zalman (article #4), founder of the Chabad Chasidic movement.
(Plus, Chai Elul is also the yahrzeit of the Maharal of Prague, who departed this world in 1609, 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 articles 6, 7; (Sephardim have been reciting them for three weeks already - more power to them!).
Article #5 not only will get you thinking about Rosh HaShana, it will also be enticing for the other three festivals in the month that follow it.
Next week: Our special Rosh Hashana 5784 issue.