Children are not made to fast on the Day of Atonement, but when one or two years prior to their coming of age they are accustomed to do it, so that they become habituated to obey the religious commandments.

Yoma Chapter 8


5 September in History

In 1905, today the Russo-Japanese War comes to an end with the signing of the Treaty of Portsmouth. According to some sources, Jewish financers had supported Japanese efforts to raise funds for fighting the war as an expression of their displeasure with Russia’s treatments of her Jews. President Theodore Roosevelt won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end the fighting. In additional to the Medal, there was a cash award four thousand dollars of which TR donated to the Jewish Welfare Board.

26 Elul in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Chaim Pinto of Mogador (1758-1845). The famous Pinto family was dispersed worldwide – primarily to Morocco, the Ottoman Empire, and Holland — after 1497 when Portugal expelled its Jews. Rav Shlomo Pinto married his second wife, Chiyuna Beneviste, and moved to Agadir, Morocco.

In 1758, Chiyuna gave birth to their son, Rav Chaim, whom they named after Rav Chaim Vital. Ten years later, Rav Shlomo passed away, leaving his son an orphan. The Sultan of Morocco, Sidi Mohammed, closed down the port of Agadir, replacing it with the new port of Mogador (or Essaquira) that he had completed 1765, far south on Morocco’s west coast. Mogador’s thriving businesses were jumpstarted by thirteen businessmen known as the toujiar el Sultan (the traders of the Sultan) – ten of them Jews and three of them Moslems – and thanks to them and others, Mogador helped open Morocco to Europe. Within twenty years, the Mogador Jews would comprise half or more of the town’s 6,000 residents.

Young Chaim moved to Mogador and learned in the yeshiva headed by the av beit din (head of rabbinical court), Rav Yaakov Bibas. Over time, Rav Chaim became an accomplished Kabbalist and renowned for his ruach hakodesh (Divine Inspiration and insight). Rav Chaim was survived by his four distinguished sons, Rav Yehuda, Rav Yosef, Rav Yoshiyahu, and Rav Yaakov.