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The vessels of the Holy One, blessed be He, are not as the vessels of human beings: A human being can put only something into an empty vessel, but if the vessel is full, he can put in nothing; but the Holy One, blessed be He, can add to a full vessel, but can put nothing into an empty one, as it is written [Deut. xxviii. 1]: “If you will surely listen”;  i.e., if you have heard diligently, you can receive more knowledge, but if not diligently, you can hear nothing.

Another interpretation for this verse is this: If you have given your attention to what you have learned before, you can learn from it new things; but if you have turned away your heart from the old teaching, you cannot learn anything new.

Sukkah Chapter 4


18 November in History

In 1906, today was the birthdate of biologist George Wald, American biochemist who received (with Haldan K. Hartline of the U.S. and Ragnar Granit of Sweden) the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1967 for his work on the chemistry of vision. While researching the biochemistry of vision at Harvard University, he disclosed the presence of Vitamin A in the retina of the eye. In later work, he identified visual pigments and their precursors. As a byproduct he described the absorption spectra of the different types of cones serving color vision. His important discovery of the primary molecular reaction to light in the eye represented a dramatic advance in vision since it plays the role of a trigger in the photoreceptors of all living animals.

11 Kislev in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Yitzchak Friedman (1924). Born in Sadigura, both of his parents were grandchildren of the Ruzhiner Rebbe. In 1903, he married, and with the passing of his father, he set up his court in Rimanov. He died during a fund-raising expedition in the United States. A close friend and relative collected hespedim for the Rebbe in a sefer called Akeidas Yitzchak.

For a Jewish unfaithful, even if they pronounce light headed words and of disbelief, in the midst of their soul is the light of God, and clinging and thirsting for the living God, the God of Israel; even to the extent that such a person would be willing to die for God.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook


17 November in History

In 2001, Daniel Saul Goldin finishes serving as Adminstrator of NASA. Goldin was the first Jew to hold the post. He held the position longer than any of his predecessors, serving under three different Presidents.

10 Kislev in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer (1870-1954), author of Even HaEzel, rosh yeshiva of Slutsk and Eitz Chaim-Yerushalayim, disciple of Netziv, Rav Chaim Soloveitchik, and the Chafetz Chaim. Father-in-law of Rav Aharon Kotler, and uncle of Rav Shach.His wife was descended from Rav Meir Eisenstadt, author of Ponim Meiros.

Both Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer and Rav Moshe Mordechai married daughters of Reb Shraga Frank, one of the wealthiest men in Kovno, and in whose attic Rav Yisrael Salanter began teaching mussar to Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel and Rav Yitzchak Blazer.

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November 2010