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In the time of the forty years during which Simeon the Upright was high-priest in the Temple, the lot with God’s name always came into the high-priest’s right hand (on the Day of Atonement, when he would dray lots), but thereafter it sometimes fell into his right, sometimes into his left hand.

And the piece of crimson wool, during the time of Simeon the Upright, always became white (after the service on the Day of Atonement, as a symbol of God’s atonement of the Jewish people). But after Simeon the Upright, sometimes it became white, sometimes it remained red.

In Simeon the Upright’s time the western light (of the candelabra) ever burned, but after him it sometimes burned and sometimes went out.

The fire of the altar ever waxed in strength, and except the two measures of wood prescribed they had not to add any wood, in Simeon the Upright’s time; but after him, sometimes the fire persisted and sometimes wood had to be added.

Yoma Chapter 4

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21 June in History

Today is birthdate of Alexander the Great (356 B.C.E.). Alexander traveled back forth across Judea; first when he went down to conquer Egypt and then when he came back from his Egyptian conquest and moved east to conquer more of the Persian Empire. There is a tale about him coming to Jerusalem, that he refused to destroy the Temple. Simon the Righteous came to greet Alexander as he approached Jerusalem. He’s treatment of the Jews was tolerant since he left them to practice their religion in peace and Jews found it easy to settle throughout his newly conquered domains. This attitude set allowed for a mixing of the Jewish and Greek cultures.

9 Tammuz in History

The Babylonian armies of King Nebuchadnezzar breached the walls of Jerusalem on the 9th of Tammuz in the year 3338 from creation (423 BCE); King Ziddikiahu of Judah was captured and taken to Babylon (Jeremiah 39:5. A month later, the capture of Jerusalem was completed with the destruction of the Holy Temple and the exile of all but a small number of Jews to Babylon). Tammuz 9 was observed as a fast day until the second breaching of Jerusalem’s walls (by the Romans) on the 17th of Tammuz, 3829 (69 CE), at which time the fast was moved to that date.

Today is the Yahrzeit of Rav Yekusiel Yehuda Halberstam, the Klausenberger Rebbe (1905-1994), great-grandson of the Divrei Chaim of Sanz. He spent most of World War II in concentration camps. During his last 15 years of life, he founded Kollelei Shas in Eretz Yisrael and America. These Kollelei Shas were intended for premier students who were already known for their sharp intellect and dedication.

The goal of the kollel was that in the course of three years, the members had to complete the entire Shas. Every member had to obligate himself to be tested on 75 pages of Gemara with the Tosafot commentary each month and know them by heart.

In 1983, at his house in Kiryat Sanz, Netanya, he laid the cornerstone for what would ultimately become Mifal HaShas, where students would learn 30 pages of Gemara with Tosafot with a built-in review program and be tested monthly on the material learned.

In addition to his tremendous efforts on behalf of Torah learning, the Rebbe also used his experiences from the war to stimulate him in another area. Having survived the horror of witnessing the murder of his wife and their 11 children, Reb Yekusiel vowed to dedicate his life to welfare and good health of all Jewish children. He founded Laniado Hospital in Netanya in 1975 after 15 years of fund-raising. His vision of a proper Jewish hospital was confirmed in 1990, as it was one of the only hospitals in Israel to have every employee working during the 127-day doctors’ strike. After his death, his eldest surviving son, Rav Zvi Elimelech Halberstam, became the new Sanz Rebbe in Israel, as well as President of the Hospital.

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