“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.