Today is the first day of the Hebrew month of Elul !
Rabbi Steinsaltz writes:
The month of Elul is called the “month of mercy” or the “month of Selihot,” and is devoted entirely to repentance and preparation for the days of judgment — Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
During this month, it is customary to fulfill the commandments in the most perfect way possible, and everyone tries to make amends for one’s misdeeds, to the best of one’s ability.
Some are accustomed to hold a Ta’anit Dibbur, a “fast of speech,” in which an individual, or sometimes an entire group of people, avoid speaking of secular matters for one or several days, during this period or part of it, and some fast throughout the entire month, eating only in the evenings.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From “Special Days,” p. 246, in A Guide to Jewish Prayer by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz