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“A concern in a person’s heart, yisechena” (Prov. 12)

Rav Ami says, yisechena means he should remove it [the concern] from his heart.

Rav Assi says, yisechena means he should tell it to another.

Rashi explains: tell to another–perhaps he will be able to provide you with advice.

Yoma Chapter 8


1 August in History

Today is the birthday of Rabbi Tuvia Geffen, longtime leader of Congregation Shearith Israel. He held a deep connection to Orthodoxy, yet also valued secular education. Four of his boys attended Emory University, a Methodist University. He received a special exemption for his boys from needing to attend chapel on Sundays, and from taking notes or tests on Saturdays. His children did need to walk four miles to classes until a local Jewish family was found that the boys were able to spend Shabbat with.

While in Atlanta, he oversaw the Kashrut of Coca-Cola, and as such is one of the few people to ever learn all the well guarded recipe. Because of this knowledge, he was often known as The Coca-Cola Rabbi.

21 Av in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Chaim Soleveitchik of Volozhin and Brisk (1853-1918). Son of the Beis Halevi, Rav Yosef Dov Soleveitchik, Rav Chaim was born in Volozhin, but moved with his family to Slutzk while still quite young, when his father became Rav of the city.

When Rav Chaim was 20, he married Lifsha, the daughter of Rav Raphael Shapira, the son-in-law of the Netziv. Since Rav Raphael was a rish mesivta in Volozhin, Rav Chaim moved there. When Rav Raphael moved away, Rav Chaim took the post of rosh mesivta Volozhin in 1880.

In 1892, following the closing of the Volozhin yeshivah, Rav Chaim moved to Brisk where he succeeded his father as the community Rav. Rav Chaim is buried next to the Netziv in the Jewish cemetery in Warsaw. His oldest son was Rav Moshe, who was the father of Rav Yosef Dov and Rav Ahron Soleveitchik. His other famous son was Rav Yitzchak Zev (the “GRIZ”), also known as Reb Velvel, the Brisker Rav of Yerushalayim.

Zion says,
“God has forsaken me,
My Master has forgotten me.”

[God says] Can a woman forget her child?
[Though] she might be consoled [over the lost] son of her womb,
She may forget;
I could never forget you.


The children of your bereavement [lost to exile],
Will soon say in your ears,
“This place is too crowded for me;
Make room so I can settle!”

And you will say to yourself,
“Who bore these for me,
When I was bereaved and lonely,
Exiled and bitter
But these, who raised them?
I was left alone;
Where have these been?”

Isaiah 49:14-15; 20-21

30 July in History

In 1792, Baltimore, Maryland is founded. Jews were already living in the colony of Maryland when Baltimore was founded. The Jewish community in Baltimore is one of the oldest in the country. However, the first building that was built as a synagogue, the Lloyd Street Synagogue, was not constructed until 1845.

31 July in History

In 1992, Rishon Lezion or First For Zion was founded by a group of 10 families in Eretz Israel. The settlement marked the beginning of the first Aliyah (going up) to Eretz- Israel, and the beginning of Rothschild’s deep involvement with settlement activities. Later that year, Baron Edmund De Rothschild in response to the Russian pogroms and a plea by Rabbi Samuel Mohilever agreed to help the new Moshava (settlement).

19 Av in History

Rav Shimon Shalom Kalish, the Amshinover Rebbe (1863-1954). Born to Rav Menachem of Amshinov, a grandson of Rav Yitzchak of Vorka, founder of the Vorka-Amshinov dynasty. During his teens, Reb Shimon was sent to learn with his uncle, Rav Yeshaya of Peshischa.

In 1918, Rav Menachem of Amshinov passed away, and his older son, Rav Yosef took his place as Rebbe. Rav Shimon was sent to Otvotzk, a suburb of Warsaw. He also became a member of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah. In 1933, he spent a full year in Eretz Yisrael with his son, Rav Yerachmiel Yehuda Meir. Although he wished to stay, his obligations forced him to move back to Europe.

The Rebbe escaped to Kobe, Japan, along with a group pf talmidim, students, of Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin, and the entire Mir Yeshiva. After the war, he spent 8 years in America. He passed away while planning his emigration to Eretz Yisrael, a goal he never accomplished. He did author the sefer, Mashmia Shalom. His son, Rav Meir, became the Amshinover Rebbe in Bayit Vegan and was niftar in 1976.

20 Av in History

This Shabbat is the second of the seven weeks of consolation that bridge the Shabbat after the Ninth of Av with the Shabbat preceding Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. A passage of consolation from the book of Isaiah is read as the Haftara.

In 1558 was the first printing of the Zohar, the fundamental work of the Kabbalah (Jewish esoteric and mystical teachings), authored by the Talmudic sage, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.

In Exodus the Manna is described as, “bread from heaven “; and in Numbers, “made cakes of it “; and elsewhere in Numbers “[the people] ground it.”

How can these be reconciled?

For the righteous, there was bread ready; as for the rest, they made cakes of the flour; and the wicked had to grind it.

Yoma Chapter 8


29 July in History

In 1942, Rav Shlomo Chanoch Rabinowitz, the 4th and last Rebbe of Radomsk, perished with his family in the Warsaw Ghetto. He was known for the network of Yeshivos Keser Torah he had established throughout Poland and Galicia. The Radomsker Chassidim during the period between the two World Wars, were counted among the three largest Chassidic movements in Poland.

18 Av in History

In 1881, the first ships containing large numbers of Russian Jews arrived in New York following pogroms in Russia. This was the beginning of mass immigration to the U.S. during that would change the face of the American Jewish Community. The great waves of immigration would slow with World War I and come to a halt during the 1920’s when an isolationism, nativism and racism closed the doors of America to most immigrants.

You need to instruct yourself to love creation, and in particular the exalted groups of humanity: the sages, the mighty, the poets, the artists, and the doers. You need to recognize the good light that is found among the aforementioned people; through these people the light of God is spread into the world, whether they recognize the degree that they were sent, or whether they do not recognize it.

Rav Avraham Yitchak HaKohen Kook



28 July in History

In 1586, the first potato arrives in Britain. Since the potato is indigenous to Peru and Bolivia this date means that European Jews could not have enjoyed such delicacies as Latkes and Potato Knishes until at least the 17th century.

17 Av in History

In 1929, 67 Jewish men, women and children were slaughtered, and scores wounded, raped and maimed, by their Arab neighbors in the city of Hebron, who rioted for three days amid cries of “Slaughter the Jews.” The survivors fled to Jerusalem, and the ancient Jewish community of Hebron, which had lived in relative peace in the city for hundreds of years, was not revived until after Israel’s capture of Hebron in the 1967 Six Day war.

“Who fed you manna in the wilderness, which your fathers did not know, in order to afflict you (Deut. 8:16).” What was the affliction? R. Ami and R. Assi both had an interpretation, one explained that not to have bread in one’s basket is an affliction; the manna had to be hoped for every day. The other explained, not to see what one eats (the manna) is an affliction, since the manna had all the flavors any food you wished for, but always had the same appearance.

Yoma Chapter 8


27 July in Hitory

Bugs Bunny, with the voice of Mel Blanc, makes his official debut in the animated cartoon A Wild Hare.

16 Av in history

Sir Moses Montefiore (1784-1885). Born in Livorno, Italy, of Sephardic descent, he traced his lineage back to the exiles from the Spanish Expulsion. When he was still a young child his family resettled in England. Young Moses became a member of the London Stock Exchange at a time when there were only 12 licensed Jewish brokers in all of England. In a matter of a few years he had amassed great wealth and had become a member of the London Aristocracy.

In 1812, he married his wife Judith, whose sister was the wife of Reb Nathan Meyer Rothschild, one of the wealthiest Jews in Europe at the time. Sir Moses eventually became the stockbroker for his brother-in-law and as a result of their partnership they amassed a tremendous fortune. In addition, he was a partner in a large insurance company as well as a gas company that introduced gas lighting to many of the major cities of Europe. Sir Moses also had a hand in building railroads and many other industrial and financial enterprises.

In 1837, Montefiore was appointed Sheriff of London. In the same year, Queen Victoria, who had recently ascended the British Throne, awarded him the honorary title of Knighthood, bestowing upon him the title “Sir” Moses. In 1846, he was elevated to the rank of Baron.

By the time he was 41 years old, Sir Moses, with his wife’s encouragement, decided to retire from business affairs and devote the rest of his life, time and considerable resources to Jewish affairs. The welfare of the Jewish People became his sole business for the next 60 some years and his list of accomplishments is truly magnificent. When he was appointed as Sheriff of London, he specifically wrote in his contract that he would be absolved from working on Shabbat and other Jewish holidays. He also specified that he was to be absolved from entering a Church on non-Jewish holidays.

Even when he was traveling, he almost always made sure to travel with an entourage of at least 10 Jews to ensure that he would have a minyan. He also took one of the many sifrei Torah that he owned along with him.

In 1840, a monk named Thomas disappeared from his home several weeks before Pesach. The French Counsel in Damascus blamed the Jews for his disappearance and claimed that they killed the monk to use his blood for matzoh. Prominent Damascus Jews were imprisoned and tortured. Many died and some, who could not withstand the torture, “confessed” under duress to the crime. Upon learning of it, Sir Moses traveled to Damascus to save the country and the honor of the Jewish people.

In 1846, Sir Moses was invited by the Russian government to visit Russia in connection with its Jewish situation. Upon returning to London, he demanded equal rights for the Jews and stressed that it would also be an economic blessing for the country.

Montefiore’s 100th birthday was celebrated as an official holiday in London and he was accorded great honor by both Jew and non-Jew alike. The Montefiores died childless.

R. Samuel b. Na’hmain in the name of R. Jonathan finds a contradiction of the following two verses: ‘The precepts of the God are upright, rejoicing the heart,'(Ps. xix. 9) and ‘The word of God refines (ibid. xviii. 31).’ In one place the word of God makes a person rejoice, in the other the word of God refines a person.

This can be answered as follows: If he has merited, it makes him rejoice; otherwise, it refines him.

Yoma Chapter 7


26 July in History

In 1605, a Jesuit Missionary traveling though China wrote a letter describing his meetings with Ai T’ien, a Chinese Jewish teacher. Most of what we know regarding the Kaifeng Jewish community is from this correspondence. The community was known by their Han Chinese neighbors as adherents of Tiaojinjiao (挑筋教), meaning, loosely, the religion which removes the sinew, a reference to the dietary restriction which prohibits eating the sciatic nerve.

15 Av in History

In wake of the incident of the “Spies,” in which the generation that came out of Egypt under Moses’ leadership demonstrated their unpreparedness for the task of conquering and settling the Holy Land, God decreed that entire generation would die out in the desert. After 38 years of wandering through the wilderness the dying finally ended, and a new generation of Jews stood ready to enter the Holy Land. It was the 15th of Av of the year 2487 from creation (1274 BCE).

Today is famous for many other events, such as in ancient Israel, it was the custom that on the 15th of Av “the daughters of Jerusalem would go out in borrowed linen garments (so as not to embarrass those without beautiful clothes of their own)… and dance in the vineyards” and “whoever did not have a wife would go there” to find himself a bride (Talmud, Taanit 31a).

R. Joshua b. Levi said, it is written [Deut. iv. 44]: “This is the law which Moses set (in Hebrew, sam, which literally means medicine).” If he has merited, it becomes to him a medicine of life; if not, it becomes to him a poison.

Yoma Chapter 7


25 July in History

Three tankers carrying more than 1600 Jews from the Italian-held island of Rhodes stop at the island of Kos, where 94 additional Jews are forced aboard.

14 Av in History

Rav Yitzchak Friedman, the Bohusher Rebbe (1903-1992). Born in Spikov, Russia to his father Rav Shalom Yosef.

Comfort, comfort My people,
Says God.

Speak to the heart of Jerusalem,
Call out to her!
Her service is full,
Her sin is forgiven:
She has taken from God’s hand,
A double portion for all her sins.

A voice is calling in the desert:
Clear out the way for God!
Level the wilderness!
A highway for our God.

Every valley will be raised,
Every mountain and hill be made low,
That which is bent, be made straight,
The ridges be a plain.

The honor of God will be revealed,
Together, all flesh will see it.

The mouth of God has spoken.

Isaiah 40:1-4


23 July in History

Today in 1501 a violent earth quake hit the land of Israel. The town of Akko was totally destroyed.

24 July in History

In 1918, on Mt. Scopus in Jerusalem, Dr. Chaim Weizmann laid the cornerstone for Hebrew University. It would be several more years before construction began and the university would actually become a reality.

12 Av in History

By order of King James I of Aragon (Spain), Nachmanides (Rabbi Moses ben Nachman, 1194-1270) was compelled to participate in a public debate, held in the king’s presence, against the Jewish convert to Christianity, Pablo Christiani. His brilliant defense of Judaism and refutations of Christianity’s claims served as the basis of many such future disputations through the generations.

Because his victory was an insult to the king’s religion, Nachmanides was forced to flee Spain. He came to Jerusalem, where he found just a handful of Jewish families living in abject poverty, and revived the Jewish community there. The synagogue he built in the Old City is in use today, and is perhaps the oldest standing synagogue in the world.

Now called the Hurva Synagogue, it was recently rebuild after the Arabs destroyed it when the Jews were forced out of the Old City in 1948. Click here to see a picture.

13 Av in History

Av 13 is the day of the passing, at age 101, of the famed philanthropist and Jewish advocate, Sir Moses Montefiore (1784-1885).

Rava would say to his students, “I beg of you, do not inherit two portions of Gehinom (hell).”

Rashi: Two portions of Gehinom: to be involved in studying Torah in this world and not fulfilling it will cause you to inherit Gehinom at death; and in your life you did not get pleasure from your toil.

Yoma Chapter 7
22 July in History

Birthdate of the poet Emma Lazarus 1849. She became famous as the author of “The New Colossus” written in 1883, four years before her death. This poem appears at the base of the Statue of Liberty and is a celebration of America as the land of the immigrant. The poem read:

The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles.
From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Emma Lazarus, 1883

To give one a sense of the times in which she lived the New York Times described her not as a Jew, but as who belonged “to one of the best known and oldest Hebrew families of the city…”

10 Av in History

Rav Don Yitzchak Abarbanel (1437-1508). Abrabanel was born in Lisbon, Portugal, to an illustrious Sephardic family which traced its lineage back to David Hamelech. His grandfather, Rav Shmuel, escaped from Seville, Spain, when the Catolics destroyed the Jewish quarter, mudering many Jews.

When Rav Yitzchak was only 20, he completed his first book, Ateres Zekeinim, and began to work on his famous commentary on the Torah. In the Summer of 1471, following the victory of King Alfonso V over Morocco, an emissary of the Moroccan Jewish community, Emmanuel ben Yitzchak, approached Don Yitzchak Abrabanel with a plea to assist in the ransom of 250 Jewish would-be slaves. The Abarbavnel was not only successful, he added his own funds to supply food and medicine.

Abarbanel served as treasurer to King Alfonso until he was forced to move to Castile (Spain) and eventually entered the service of Ferdinand and Isabella in 1484. In March 1492, an edict was issued expelling the Jews from Spain, after the conquest of Granade. Despite his political influence he was unable to prevent the expulsion in 1492 and refused the king’s offer to remain at his post, choosing instead to throw in his lot with his people. On Tisha B’Av, he led 300,000 Jews out of the country. Only 10% reached safe shores.

Rav Yitzchak found asylum in Naples, where he remained for seven years, until the French invaded. He then fled to Corfu and finally – in 1503 – to Venice, where he died. Most of his writings were composed in his later years when he was free of governmental responsibilities.

Love of all of creation requires extensive involvement, to expand it appropriately, and not to be a superficial idea… To have this love fill all places of the soul at all times. It is appropriate to ponder the opinions of other nations and different groups, to the extent possible, in order to have a solid foundation to be able to love them in a way that will benefit them.

It is only in a rich soul, filled with love of creation and love of humanity can love for a nation exist in its exalted state in a spiritual and practical element.

The narrow-mindedness, which causes people to see that which is outside of a specific nation, even if it is outside of Israel, as only disgusting and impure, is one of the greatest darkening forces that causes general destruction to the spiritual structure of good, which all pleasant souls await for its light.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook



21 July in History

In 1816, birthdate of Paul Julius Reuter. Born Israel Beer Josaphat, he changed his name to Reuter and converted in 1844. He founded what would become Reuter’s news agency in 1849. He used carrier pigeons to carry financial news to those parts of Germany, France and Belgium not yet served by telegraph. He opened his own telegraph service in England where he lived the rest of his life and died in 1899. He converted for the same reason so many other German and Austrian Jews did – it was the only way to advance in the worlds of commerce and art.

10 Av in History

In 2005, more than 8,500 Jewish residents were forcefully expelled from their homes in 25 towns and settlements in the Gaza Strip (including 16 settlements in the flourishing “Gush Katif” belt) and Northern Shomron in the summer of 2005, as part of the Israeli government’s ill-fated “Disengagement Plan.”

Av 10 was the deadline set by the governments for all Jews to leave their homes in these areas. Two days later, tens of thousands of soldiers and police officers began the forceful removal of the thousands who refused to leave willingly. The removal of all Jewish residents from Gush Katif and the Gaza Strip was completed by Av 17, and from Northern Samaria a day later. The army completed its withdrawal from these areas on the 8th of Elul, after bulldozing all the hundreds of homes and civic buildings in the settlements. The Jewish dead were disinterred and removed from the cemeteries. Only the synagogues were left standing.

The government’s hopes that the “disengagement” would open “new opportunities” in relations with the Palestinian Arabs were bitterly disappointed. No sooner had the last Israeli soldiers departed from the Gaza Strip that Arab mobs began looting, desecrating and tourching the synagogues. The vacated settlements became the staging grounds for terrorist attacks against Israel, including the unremitting rocket fire on the nearby Israeli town of Sederot and the cities and settlements of the Western Negev.

Because of this our hearts are sick,
Because of this our eyes are dimmed:
For Mount Zion,
Which lies desolate.
Jackals walk on it.

You God, are enthroned forever;
Your throne is from generation to generation.

Why have you eternally forgotten us?
You have forsaken us for endless days.

Return us God, to You
And we will return.

Renew our days, like the olden times.

You have totally rejected us;
Bitterly raged against us.

Return us God, to You
And we will return.

Renew our days, like the olden times.

Lamentations 5:17-22


20 July in History

In 1263, Pablo Christiani, a converted Jew, and Raymond of Penaforte, compelled King James of Aragon to force a debate between him and Moses ben Nachman (Nachmanides). The Jews were afraid that no matter what the outcome they would lose, so they pleaded with Nachmanides to withdraw. The King ordered him to continue. Although the outcome was preset (the Christians “won”), the King was so impressed that he rewarded Nachmanides with a present of 300 maravedis. Pablo was given permission to continue these debates throughout Aragon with the Jews having to pay his expenses. Two years later Nachmanides was convicted for publishing his side of the debate. Although he was not severely punished by the King, he decided to leave Spain for good and settled in Eretz-Israel.

9 Av in History

On the Ninth of Av of the year 2449 from creation (1312 BCE), the generation of Jews who came out of Egypt under Moses’ leadership 16 months earlier were condemned to die in the desert and the entry into the Land of Israel was delayed for 40 years.

As related in Numbers 14, when the Spies that Moses sent to the Land of Canaan returned with their disheartening report (see “Today in Jewish History” for yesterday, Av 8), the people wept all night — the night of Av 9th — proclaiming that they’d rather return to Egypt than attempt to conquer and settle it; G-d decreed that the entire generation will wander in the desert for 40 years until that last of them died out, and that their children, under the leadership of Joshua, will enter the land He promised as Israel’s heritage.

This is the first of five national tragedies that occurred on Av 9 listed by the Talmud (Taanit 4:6), due to which the day was designated as a fast day. The other four are: the destruction of the two Temples, the fall of Betar, and the plowing over of Jerusalem.

Both the first and second Holy Temples which stood in Jerusalem were destroyed on Av 9: the First Temple by the Babylonians in the year 3338 from creation (423 BCE), and the second by the Romans in 3829 (69 CE).

The Temples’ destruction represents the greatest tragedy in Jewish history, for it marks our descent into Galut–the state of physical exile and spiritual displacement in which we still find ourselves today. Thus the Destruction is mourned as a tragedy that affects our lives today, 2,000 years later, no less than the very generation that experienced it first hand.

Betar, the last stronghold in the heroic Bar Kochba rebellion, fell to the Romans on the 9th of Av of the year 3893 (133 CE) after a three-year siege. 580,000 Jews died by starvation or the sword, including Bar Kochba, the leader of the rebellion/

The Jews of England were expelled by King Edward I on this date in 1290.

The Jews of Spain were expelled by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella on the 9th of Av of 1492, terminating many centuries of flourishing Jewish life in that country.

Rav Yannai would remark, “What a waste to one who builds a gate to a court yard but has no court yard!”

Rashi: The Torah is like a gate that one needs to enter into having awe of heaven. A person must have some measure of awe of heaven prior to studying Torah.

Yoma Chapter 7


19 July in History

The Roman Emperor Julian, known to Christians as Julian the Apostate, left Constantinople and arrived in Antioch to prepare for the invasion of Persia. While preparing for the invasion he met Jewish leaders to whom he promised he would re-build the Temple. Julian’s short reign would come to an end in the following year and nothing came of his plans for the Third Temple.

8 Av in History

In 1312 BCE, the Spies dispatched 40 days earlier by Moses to tour the Promised Land return to Israel’s encampment in the desert, bearing a huge cluster of grapes and other lush fruits. But even as they praise the land’s fertility, they terrify the people with tales of mighty giant warriors dwelling there and assert that the land is unconquerable.

In 67 CE, fighting breaks out inside the besieged city of Jerusalem between Jewish factions divided on the question of whether or not to fight the Roman armies encircling the city from without. One group sets fire to the city’s considerable food stores, consigning its population to starvation until the fall of Jerusalem three years later.

Today marks the passing of Rav Shimon Agasi who was born in Baghdad (1852-1914). His family originated in Persia. In Persian, his name Agasi, means “commissioner,” a position some of his forebears, who were very wealthy and influential, had occupied in their native land.

Rav Shimon’s father, Rav Aharon, had been a very successful businessman who imported paint from India. At the age of eleven, Shimon began to study in Baghdad’s Medrash Talmud Torah, founded by Rav Abdallah Somech.

It developed rapidly to become the top Torah institution in the city, where over three thousand students studied free-of-charge. Among those who learned there were Rav Eliyahu Mani (the chief rav of Chevron), the Ben Ish Chai and Rav Salman Mutzafi.

In 1865, a man, named Yitzchak Luria, came to Baghdad and attempted to open an Alliance school, which offered secular studies and tried to modernize the lifestyles of its students. However, Baghdad’s sages placed a cheirem (banishment) on the school and thwarted his efforts.

From Medrash Talmud Torah, Rav Shimon proceeded to its adult division, Beit Zilcha, where he became one of its finest students. His main mentors in Beit Zilcha were Rav Abdallah Somech’s two best students, Rav Shmuel Majled and Rav Nissim HaLevi. At the age of 17, Rav Shimon began to study Kabbalah from Rav Chaim Vital’s Eitz Chaim. A number of years later, he joined the Chacham Yitzchak yeshivah, founded by Rav Yitzchak Berabi Mordechai Sasson, another of Baghdad’s great sages.

Among its illustrious students were Rav Yehuda Petaya, Rav David Sofer, Rav Rafael Shlomo Laniado, Rav Nissim Kadouri and Rav Yitzchak Nissim. In 1898, his oldest son, Aharon, passed away on Purim of that year.

Rav Agasi was the author of Shem MiShimon.

“Within and without you should coat it (the ark) [with gold]” (Ex 25:11). Rabba says, “It can be inferred from this, that a scholar whose inside is not like his outside is no scholar.”

Yoma Chapter 7


18 July in History

It was on this day in 1917 a draft of what would become the Balfour Declaration was submitted to Lord Balfour. The declaration, which was a formal statement of policy by the British government, would would state:

“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

The final document was completed on 2 November 1917.

It was today in 1922 that Adolf Hitler publishes his personal manifesto Mein Kampf.

7 Av in History

After nearly a month of fierce fighting inside Jerusalem, the armies of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia broke through into the Temple compound, where they feasted and vandalized until the afternoon of Av 9, when they set the Holy Temple aflame (423 BCE).

Listen heavens,
And incline your ear, land: God has spoken,
“I have grown and raised children;
And they sin against Me.
An ox knows his owner.
A donkey knows his provider’s trough,
Israel does not know.
He does not contemplate.”
Therefor says the Master, God of Legions, the mighty One of Israel,
“Ah, I will be consoled from my foes:
I will take vengeance on my enemies.
I will return my hand on you, and refine your dross in a crucible,
I will remove all of your impurities.”

“I will bring back your judges like the early days,
And your advisors as at first.
Afterwards, you will be called
‘Righteous city, Faithful village.'”

“Zion will be redeemed through justice,
And those who return to her with judgement.”

Isaiah 1:2-3; 24-26


16 July in History
In 1782, first performance of Mozart’s opera The Abduction from the Seraglio. That year also marked the beginning of the relationship between Mozart and Lorenzo da Ponte, the son of a Jewish convert who had trained as a priest. Together, they co-produced such classics as “The Marriage of Figaro”, “Don Giovanni” and “Cosi fan tutte”.

17 July in History
In 1862, legislation abolishing discrimination against the service of chaplains in the United States army became a law. This opened the door for Rabbis to officially serve in this capacity.

5 Av in History
Today marks the passing of Rabbi Isaac Luria Ashkenazi, known as Ari HaKadosh (“The Holy Lion”) passed away on the 5th of Av of the year 5332 from creation (1572 CE). Born in Jerusalem in 1534, he spent many years in secluded study near Cairo, Egypt. In 1570 he settled in Sefad, where he lived for two years until his passing at age 38. During that brief period, the Ari revolutionized the study of Kabbalah, and came to be universally regarded as one of the most important figures in Jewish mysticism. It was he who proclaimed, “In these times, we are allowed and duty-bound to reveal this wisdom,” opening the door to the integration of the teachings of Kabbalah–until then the province of a select few in each generation–into “mainstream” Judaism.

6 Av in History
Today is the Yahrzeit of Rav Yehoshua Greenwald, Av Beit Din (Head of Rabbinical court) of Chust. After suffering the horrors of World War II, he wrote that “strolling in beautiful gardens, looking at pleasing works of architecture, and being surrounded by beautiful objects, alleviate depression and expand one’s mind.”

He established a congregation for Chust Holocaust surviviors in Borough Park which his son-in-law Rabbi Pinchos Dovid Horowitz, eldest son of Levi Yitzchak Horowitz the Bostoner Rebbe, now leads.

“For length of days, and years of life, and peace, will they increase to you (Prov 3:2).”

What does “years of life” mean? Are there any years not of life?

R. Elazar said, “Those are the years of man when his circumstances change from evil to good.”

Rashi explains, “When his circumstances change: One who was in poverty in his youth and becomes wealthy in his old age, it is as if he became alive while having been dead.”

Yoma Chapter 7


15 July in History

In 1205, the Pope promulgated a Church doctrine which held Jews doomed to perpetual servitude and subjugation because they killed Jesus. This classic charge of deicide was officially removed in 1963.

Today is the birthdate of the Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn (1606). Rembrandt lived in a Jewish quarter in Amsterdam. He often depicted Jewish people on his canvases. One of his most famous paintings is styled “Moses Breaking the Tablets of the Law.”

A letter published in 2004 by Margaret S. Livingstone, professor of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, suggests that Rembrandt, whose eyes failed to align correctly, suffered from stereo blindness. This conclusion was made after studying 36 of Rembrandt’s self-portraits. Because he could not form a normal binocular vision, his brain automatically switched to one eye for many visual tasks. This disability could have helped him to flatten images he saw, and then put it onto the two-dimensional canvas. Livingstone theorized that this was an advantage for the painter: “Art teachers often instruct students to close one eye in order to flatten what they see. Therefore, stereo blindness might not be a handicap—and might even be an asset—for some artists.”

4 Av in History

Rav Benzion Halberstam of Bobov (1874-1942). Born in Bokovosk, Galicia , to Rav Shlomo Halberstam, a grandson of Rav Chaim of Sanz. In 1893, Rav Shlomo moved to Bobov and appointed his son, Rav Benzion Rav of the town.

His father’s work at working with youth was sadly cut short when he died suddenly in 1905, at the age of 58. On the following Shabbat, Rav Shlomo’s brothers appointed Rav Benzion the Bobover Rebbe. He followed in his father’s footsteps by focusing on the youth.

He was murdered with 20,000 Jews after being forced to dig a mass grave in a forest outside of Lvov (Lemberg). Rav Benzion was survived by two sons – Rav Shlomo Halberstam, the Bobover Rebbe (d. 2000), and Rav Yechezkel Dovid (d. 1978), as well as 7 daughters, the oldest of whom was Devora Leah Twerski, of Milwaukee.

A lowly person is allowed to be hated only for their limitations, but from the perspective of their being created in the image of God, it is worthy to love them; especially since the reality of their true measure is more internal than the existence of their limitations.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook



14 July in History

In 1904, birthdate of Yiddish novelist, Isaac Bashevis Singer. Singer, author of many volumes including Enemies and Yentel won the Nobel Prize in 1978. He passed away in 1991.

3 Av in History

Rav Shmuel Bornstein (also known as Shmuel Salir), author of Shem Mishmuel and Rebbe of Sochaczev (Sochochow) (1855-1927). He was the son of the Avnei Nezer.


R. Johanan said, “There were three crowns present on the vessels in the Temple: the altar, the ark, and the table. The altar’s crown was called “the Crown of Priesthood;” Aaron received. The table’s crown was known as “the Crown of Royalty,” David received. The crown of the ark was called “the Crown of Learning.” It is yet to be bestowed.

Should one think that it is not valuable? Therefore it is written [Prov. viii. 15]; “Through me (this crown, represented by Torah) do kings reign.”

Yoma Chapter 7


13 July in History

In 1815, Future President John Q. Adams wrote in a letter, ‘The Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation. If I were an atheist, I should still believe fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations.’

2 Av in History

Today is the Yahrzeit of Rav Aharon Tumim (1630-1690). A rav in Prague from 1659 to 1672, Rav Aharon became Rosh Yeshiva in Worms in 1672. He wrote Mateh Aharon on the Hagadah. In 1687, he accepted a psotion of Rav of Krakow, but because of political circumstances, he delayed his departure until 1690. Shortly after he left Worms, the city was destroyed by the troops of King Louis XIV. He served in Krakow four months before a Polish nobleman had him arrested; he died as a result of torture.

Note: The Jewish Almanac will now start to update to accommodate the communities on the east side of the Atlantic.  For those of us in the west side, you may need to view the second post down.  I think this is a small inconvenience to better serve our tight-knit (1095 downloads over two months) world-wide (40 countries) community.

Thanks to those of you who have written in, giving me this advice.

Chodesh Tov,




It happened to one high-priest going out from the Temple, and the whole community was accompanying him, that the community perceived Shemaia and Abtalian (who were great scholars). The people then left the high-priest, and accompanied Shemaia and Abtalian.

Later, Shemaia and Abtalian came to take leave of the high-priest. He said to them, “May the children of the Gentiles (they were proselytes’ descendants) go in peace.”

They replied to him, “The children of the Gentiles may go in peace, because they do what Aaron the high-priest did; but the children of Aaron may not have peace, who do not what Aaron did (love not peace).”

Yoma Chapter 7


12 July in History

It was on this day in 1191 that the armies of the Third Crusade (1189-92), led by England’s King Richard (‘The Lionhearted’), captured the Syrian seaport of Acre. The Third Crusade would end in failure for the Christian forces. King Richard would be taken prisoner by the Austrians on his way home. The Jews of England would be called upon to help pay the ransom of their monarch, who had left the kingdom under the control of his brother Prince John.

1 Av in History

Aaron the first High Priest, brother of Moses and Miriam, passed away at age 123 on the 1st of Av of the year 2487 from creation (1274 BCE). This is the only yahrzeit explicitly mentioned in the Torah (Numbers 33:38).

Today is the passing of Rav Shlomo Halberstam (1908-2000), son of Rav Ben Zion, grandson of Rav Shlomo, founder of the Bobov dynasty. At the outbreak of World War II, he and his father escaped to Lemberg. On the fourth of Av 1942 his father was killed, and Rav Shlomo escaped to the Bochnia Ghetto. In Bochnia, the Rav lost his Rebbetzin and two children. He managed to escape with his only surviving child, Naftali, to Budapest, and then to Bucharest. During the war, Halberstam dressed up as a nun to rescue other Jews, hiding them in the false bottom of a coal truck. Rav Shlomo is believed to have been the last remaining Chassidic rabbi to have survived the Holocaust.

Born in the Galicia region of central Europe, Rav Halberstam arrived in the United States in 1946, alone and indigent after his group was largely obliterated by the Nazis. Rav Halberstam is widely credited with rebuilding the Bobover community in the United States after the war.

It is written (Ps. cxvi. 9) “I will go before God in the lands of the living.” (What is meant by the lands of the living?) Said R. Jehudah: The market-places.

Rashi: The Market Places: The places that people are able to purchase their needs in order to live. Since King David was always being pursued and had to travel from place to place, he prayed to God that he could once again, “I will go before God in the lands of the living.”

Yoma Chapter 7


11 July in History

In 1923, Albert Einstein delivers his Nobel Lecture in Gothenburg, Sweden. The speech was titled “Fundamental Ideas and Problems of the Theory of Relativity.”

29 Tammuz in History

Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, known as “Rashi”, passed away on the 29th of Tammuz of the year 4865 from creation (1105 CE).
Rashi was born in Troyes, France, in 1040. His commentaries on the Torah, Prophets and Talmud are universally accepted as the most basic tool for the understanding of these texts for schoolchild and scholar alike. Numerous commentaries have been authored on his commentary.

My nation has done me two wrongs,
They left me;
The source of living waters.
They have gone to hew cisterns,
Broken cisterns,
Which hold no water.

Is Israel a slave?
Is he property of a house?

Why then, is he taken as plunder?

Jermiah 2:13


9 July in History

In 1976, The Jerusalem Post reported on the tragic fate of Dora Bloch, who held both British and Israeli citizenship, and who remained at a Ugandan hospital after all the other hijacked Israelis were freed by the Entebbe IDF operation. She ominously disappeared from the hospital after having been visited by a British official, one day after the Israeli raid, and was suspected of having been later murdered. Israel cited this case at the UN as an apparent example of Ugandan complicity in the high jacking of the Air France plane.

10 July in History

In 1882, 250 Jewish exiles arrived in St. Louis, MO. These European refugees, who have terrible tales to tell about their treatment in the Old World, are destitute so they are being cared for by a local committee of their coreligionists.

27 Tammuz in History

Today is the Yahrziet of Rav Yaakov Adess, born in Yerushalayim (1898-1963), the youngest of his father’s four sons. He received his early education from his father, Rav Avraham Chaim Adess. In 1910, his father placed him in Yeshivas Ohel Moed, where he learned under Rav Raphael Shlomo Laniado and Rav Yosef Yedid Halevi. There, he stayed as magid shiur from 1920-1923, when the yeshiva closed.

He moved with Rav Laniado to Porat Yosef, first as magid shiur and later as Rosh Yeshiva. Most of his writings on the Talmud were destroyed when the Jordanians captured the Old City in 1948. At the end of 1945, Rav Adess was appointed as Av Beit Din, Head of Rabbinical Court, in Yerushalayim. In 1955, he was chosen to serve on the Chief Rabbinate’s Beit Din Hagodol.

28 Tammuz in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Moshe Teitelbaum, Av Beit Din of Ujhely, Hungary (1759-1841), author of Yismach Moshe, founder of Satmar and Sighet dynasties. He was a direct descendent of the Rema.

He served as Rav and Av Beit Din of Shinova at the age of 26. He made a shiduch with his only daughter to a disciple of the renowned Chasidic leader, the Choseh of Lublin, and shortly thereafter became of follower himself.

Why were the sages of the early second Temple period called the Men of the Great Assembly? Because they restored God’s crown to its original glory.

How so? Moses had said [Deut. x. 17]: “The God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome.” Then rose Jeremiah and said, “The idolaters are destroying His Temple. Where is His awesomeness?” So he said only “the great, the mighty,” omitting “awesome.”

Then came Daniel, and said, “The idolaters keep as slaves His children. Where is His might?” So he omitted “mighty.”

Then came the men of the Great Assembly, and said, “On the contrary, this is His might, that He is patient toward the wicked. And this is His awesomeness, that if men had not felt His terror, how could such a small people (as Israel) keep itself among so many peoples of idolaters? Therefore they introduced again the phrase, “the God, the great, the awesome, the mighty.”

And the rabbis (Jeremiah and Daniel), how did they dare to modify what Moses had established? R. Elazar explains, “Because they knew the Holy One, blessed be He, loves truth. So they did not wish to lie to Him, to tell Him what they did not think.”

Yoma Chapter 7


8 July in History

In 1654, according to some sources, Jacob Barsimon left Holland aboard the Peartree for New Amsterdam. He was the first Jewish resident of New Amsterdam (New York). Other sources claim that the Peartree and Barsimon did not set sail until July 17 and did not arrive until August 22, 1654. Regardless of which dating one accepts, the origin of the Jewish Community is dated from September 7, 1653 when 23 Sephardic Jewish refugees from Recife (Brazil) arrived in New Amsterdam aboard the French ship, St. Charle

26 Tammuz in History

Today is the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried (1804-1886) who was born in Uzhhorod (Ungvar) in the Carpathian region of the Habsburg Empire (now Ukraine). When he was eight years old, Shlomo’s father, Rabbi Yosef, passed way, and Ungvar’s chief rabbi, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh Heller, assumed legal guardianship of Shlomo. In 1830, he abandoned his work as a wine merchant and accepted the position of Rabbi of Brezovica (Brezevitz). In 1849, he returned to Ungvar to serve as a rabbinical judge. Realizing that the average Jew required a basic knowledge of practical halachah, Rabbi Ganzfried compiled the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, an abbreviated digest of Jewish law. To this day, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch remains a classic halachic work, and it has been translated into many languages.

On occasion, one’s love for creation encompasses everything, even that which is evil. Yet this does not diminish how much hatred one has for evil, on the contrary: it strengthens it. Certainly, it is not the evil element found within the evil people that one is in love with. It is the the good elements that can be found within the evil people that one is in love with. This leaves the evil element on its own, clearly identified for your hatred of that which is evil.

Rav Avrahaham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook



7 July in History

Today is the birthdate of artist Marc Chagall (1887).  Born Moishe Zakharovich Shagalov (Moishe Segal) in Belarus (then part of the Russian Empire), Chagall‘s life lasted almost one hundred years. He developed his art against a backdrop of World War I, the Russian Revolution and its Stalinist aftermath, Paris during the thirties, the Holocaust and the birth of the state of Israel.
Born Moishe Zakharovich Shagalov (Moishe Segal) in Belarus (then part of the Russian Empire), Chagall‘s life lasted almost one hundred years. He developed his art against a backdrop of World War I, the Russian Revolution and its Stalinist aftermath, Paris during the thirties, the Holocaust and the birth of the state of Israel.

25 Tammuz in History

Rabbi Aharon Berachia ben Moshe of Modina (? – 1639) was an Italian Kabbalist and a student of Rabbi Menachem Azariah of Fano. At the request of the Burial Society at Mantua, he instituted rites for them. The author of many Kabbalistic works, he is perhaps best known for his work Ma’abar Yabbok, which contains mystical dissertations on purity and holiness. He also wrote additional prayers to be offered for the sick and the dead, as well as a code of conduct for their treatment. Many of the prayers recited at the gravesites of the deceased were composed by him.

They (the Sages of of the post first Temple exile time period) said, “Since it is a time of favor(from Heaven), they would pray that the inclination for sexual desire be handed over to them too. They prayed, and he was delivered to them.

It was said to them, “Take heed. If you kill this spirit, the world will perish.” They kept him imprisoned three days. They sought in all Palestine an egg laid on that day. They could not find. They said among themselves, What should we do? If we will kill him, the world will perish. Should we pray for the half (that desire should exist only in legal cases)? We have a tradition that a half is not given from Heaven; so they put out his eyes, and left him.

Since then the inclination for sexual does not excite desire toward relatives.

Yoma Chapter 7


6 July in History

On 6 July 2008 Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi-hunter, headed to South America as part of a public campaign to capture the most wanted Nazi in the world, Aribert Heim, also known as “Dr. Death” and bring him to justice, claiming that Heim was alive and hiding in Patagonia, either in Chile or Argentina. Dr. Zuroff elaborated on July 15, 2008 that he was sure Heim was alive and the groundwork had been laid to capture him within weeks.

Heim is alleged to have lived for many years in Cairo, Egypt under the alias of Tarek Farid Hussein and reportedly died there on August 10, 1992. His grave and body have not been found. At the end of a BBC documentary, broadcast 12 September 2009, it was stated that German Police visited Cairo in 2009 but found no evidence of Heim’s death.

24 Tammuz in History

In 1099 CE, when the crusaders captured Jerusalem during the First Crusade, the Jews of Jerusalem fled into a synagogue. The crusaders then set flame to the synagogue, burning alive all the Jewish men, women, and children who had taken refuge there. All Jews were barred from living in the city of Jerusalem for the following 88 years.


“They (the Sages of the post first Temple exile time period) cried with a loud voice to God.” What did they say? They cried, “Woe! Woe! The evil inclination for idolatry has destroyed the Temple, has killed all the just men, and exiled Israel from their land, and we see him yet among us. Why did You (God) created this inclination? To reward us more for overcoming him. We wish neither him nor the rewards.” Then fell down a piece of paper from Heaven, which was written on it: “Emeth” (Truth). [Says R. Hanina: Infer from this that the seal of the Holy One, blessed be He, is “Truth.”]

They fasted three days and three nights. Then he (the evil inclination) was delivered into their hands. They saw a lion-cub of fire went out from the Holy of Holies. Then the prophet said to them, “Here is the evil spirit of idolatry.” As it is written [Zechariah v. 8], “This is the wickedness.” They caught him.

When a hair was torn out from his mane, he issued a cry which was heard at the distance of four hundred parsas. They said, “If he cries so loud, what can we do to him? He may be pitied in Heaven; what should we do so his voice be not heard? They were then advised to throw him into a leaden pot, as lead muffles the voice. They put him into a leaden pot, and covered it with a leaden lid, as it is written [ibid.], “And he said, this is the wickedness. And he cast it into the middle of the ephah, and he cast the weighty lead cover upon the mouth thereof.”

Since then idolatry ceased among Israel.

Yoma Chapter 7


5 July in History

In 1936, a Czechoslovak press photographer, Stephan Lux, shot himself in Geneva, during the League of Nations Assembly meeting, in protest against the treatment of Jews in Germany. He died in hospital the following night.

23 Tammuz in History

Rav Moshe Cordovero (Remak) (1522-1570). The Remak was the son of Rav Yaakov, one of the exiles from Cardova, Spain. He studied under the great kabbalists Rav Shlomo HaLevi Alkabetz (who would become his brother-in-law) and Rav Yosef Karo. Rav Chaim Vital was among his greatest talmidim. He was the author of Tomer Devora and Pardes Rimonim. In the latter book, he systematized all kabbalistic knowledge that had been revealed until then. In his sefer, Ohr Ne’erav, he explains the necessity of studying Kabbalah but also criticizes those who study this subject without prior Torah knowledge, pointing out that one must first study Torah, Mishnah, and Gemara before studying Kabbalah. He also wrote a comprehensive commentary on the Zohar entitled Ohr Yakar, but it was not published for 400 years. Publication of this multi-volume work was finally begun in 1962 and completed in 1989. Although he served as Rosh Yeshiva and as a Dayan, his fame rests on his contribution to Kabbalistic literature and thought.

The appointed person who walked the goat to Azazel, on the Day of Atonement, was offered food and water at rest stops along the path.

Yet no one ever needed the food or the water. If no one ever took, why was it offered?

Since you can not compare one who has bread in his basket to one who does not have bread in his basket.

Rashi: The person who does not have bread in his basket is incomparably more hungry.

Yoma Chapter 5


4 July in History

In 1788, Benjamin Franklin was too sick and weak to get out of bed, but the Independence Day parade in Philadelphia marched right under his window. And, as Franklin himself had directed, ‘the clergy of different Christian denominations, with the Rabbis of the Jews, walked arm in arm.’

22 Tammuz in History

Today is the Yahrziet of Rabbi Shlomo (1738-1792), Chassidic Rebbe in the town of Karlin, Russia (near Pinsk), was killed in the pogroms which accompanied the Polish uprising against Russia.

The word of God came to me:
Go and call, in Jerusalem’s ears, “So says God,
‘I remember the kindness of your youth,
Your love as a bride,
When you followed me into the desert,
Into an unsown land.
Israel is holy to God;
The choice of His produce.
All who would consume him will be ashamed,
Evil will befall them'”
Says God.

Jeremiah 2:1-4


2 July in History

In 1944, as the Red Army closed in on the Lithuanian city of Vilna, the Germans seized 1800 Jews from their work in the factories and took them to Ponar where they were shot.

3 July in History

Idaho joins the Union becoming the 43rd star on the Star Spangled Banner (1890). Despite a comparatively small Jewish population, Idaho was the first state to elect a Jew as Governor. On his second try for the top spot Moses Alexander was elected in 1914. He served from 1915 until 1919. A German immigrant, Alexander had previously been elected Mayor of Boise. Alexander was not casual about his Jewish identity. His wife was a Jew by choice, having converted when she married Alexander.

20 Tammuz in History

Rabbi Avraham Chaim Na’eh (1890-1954) was born in Hebron to Rabbi Menachem Mendel Na’eh, a Lubavitcher chassid and dean of the Magen Avot, a yeshiva founded by the S’dei Chemed. With the outbreak of World War One, the Turks, who controlled the Land of Israel at the time, expelled anyone who was not a Turkish citizen. Most of the exiled Jews, including Rabbi Avraham Chaim, gathered in Alexandria, Egypt.

During his time there, Rabbi Avraham Chaim founded Yeshivat Eretz Yisrael and wrote the halachic work Shenot Chaim, a concise digest of halachah for Sephardic Jews. In 1918, he returned to Palestine to work for the Edah HaChareidit (a prominent Orthodox communal organization), under Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld.

Rabbi Na’eh best known for his halachic works Ketzot ha-Shulchan and Shiurei Torah (“measurements of the Torah”), in which he converted archaic halachic measurements into modern terms. Contemporary halachic authorities follow his measurements to this day.

21 Tammuz in History

Rav Shlomo of Karlin (1740 or 1738 -1792). A student of the Maggid of Mezritch, as well as of Rav Aharon the Great of Karlin, whom he succeeded in 1772, he died Kiddush HaShem (sanctifying God), stabbed by a Cossack while in the midst of the Amida prayer.

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July 2010