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From the Mishnah:
“A sick person is fed on Yom Kippur according to the decision of a medical doctor”

Rabbi Yanai said, “When a sick person says, ‘I must eat,’ and the physician says he does not need to eat, the patient is obeyed. Why? Because it is written [Prov. xiv. 10]: “The heart knows its own bitterness.'”

Is this not self-evident? No, it is not, since we might think the physician has a better comprehension of the patient’s needs.

What if the case is reversed? Then the physician is obeyed, because the patient only wishes he does not need to eat.

Yoma Chapter 8


16 August in History

In 1933, three hundred Polish Jews including a group of 140 chalutzim leave for Palestine.

6 Elul in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Gershon Shaul Yom Tov Lipman Heller (1579-1654). Born several days after the death of his father, Nosson, he was raised by his grandfather, Moshe Wallerstein HaLevi Heller in Vienna. At the age of 13, he was sent to study in Prague with the MaHaRaL. At 18, he was appointed to the MaHaRaL’s judicial court in Prague, a position he held for 27 years. In 1622, he left Prague for Nicholsburg where he served as Rav and Av Beis Din. However, after 6 months he was called to serve in Vienna, as Av Beis Din.

In 1627, he was chosen to head the Beis Din of Prague. However, after only 6 months, he was imprisoned for 40 days after which he was released penniless. He was forbidden to practice his profession as well. By 1630 the ban was lifted and in 1631, he was asked to take a position in Nimerov. In 1634 he was elected rabbi in Ludmir where he remained for a total of 7 years.

In 1641 he became Av Beis Din and Rav of the Jewish community in Crakow where he died 13 years later. He is buried in the Crakow cemetery along the fence in the area devoted to the poor and the needy.

In addition to his famous Tosefos Yom Tov, one of the most important commentaries on Misha, he authored the Sefer “Tzuras HaBayis,” a detailed explanation of Rashi’s view of the Third Temple as described by Ezekiel (chapters 40-43).

A pregnant woman who wants a food that she smells, should be fed until relieved.

The rabbis taught: If a pregnant woman has smelled sacred meat (meat that is prohibited for regular Jews to eat since it is for the Priests), or pork, something should be dipped in the sauce of one of these, and presented to her mouth. If she is relieved thereby, it is good; otherwise, the sauce must be given to her. If this has not satisfied her either, the meat itself must be given to her. Because nothing is prohibited which is needed to save a life, except idolatry, adultery, and bloodshed.

It happened to a pregnant woman that she smelled food. They came to ask Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi. He said, “Go, tell her, ‘Today is the Day of Atonement.'”

They did, and she became composed. Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi said of this child the verse in Jeremiah (i. 5): “Before I had formed you in your mother’s body, I knew you.”

That child became Rabbi Yohanan.

Yoma Chapter 8

15 August in History

In 1096, the armies of the First Crusade set out from Europe to deliver Jerusalem from the occupying forces of Islamic Turks. Championed by Peter the Hermit in 1093, Pope Urban II had sanctioned the crusade at the Council of Clermont in 1095.

5 Elul in History

The first Chassidic aliyah (“ascent” – immigration to the Holy Land), led by Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk, Rabbi Abraham of Kalisk and Rabbi Yisroel of Polotzk, reached the Holy Land on Elul 5 of the year 5537 from creation (1777 CE). They were all disciples of the 2nd leader of the Chassidic movement, Rabbi DovBer, the “Maggid of Mezeritch” (who had passed away five years earlier) and colleagues of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad.

Initially, Rabbi Schneur Zalman was part of the group; but when the caravan reached the city of Moholiev on the Dnester River, Rabbi Menachem Mendel — whom Rabbi Schneur Zalman regarded as his teacher and mentor after the Maggid’s passing — instructed him to remain behind to serve as the leader of the Chassidic community in White Russia and Lithuania. Rabbi Schneur Zalman retained close ties with the settlers in the Land of Israel and labored to raise funds for their support.

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August 2010