You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2010.

So says God:

When I gather the house of Israel from the nations they have been scattered to, I will sanctify myself in the sight of the nations, and they will return to the land that I promised Jacob my servant.

Ezekiel 28:25


31 December in History

In 1948, U.S. President Harry Truman cabled Ben-Gurion demanding that Israeli forces evacuate the Sinai or face the possible loss of U.S. support. Truman did not know that Ben-Gurion had already issued orders for such an evacuation. There are those who think Truman was moving to shore up the British whose support he needed in dealing with the threat of Soviet Imperialism.

24 Tevet in History

The founder of Chabad Chassidism, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812), passed away on the eve of the 24th of Tevet, at approximately 10:30 pm, shortly after reciting the Havdalah prayer marking the end of the Shabbat.

His main works on Jewish thought, the Tanya, and his legal works are widely studied for their clarity and relevance to the contemporary human condition.

The Rebbe was in the village of Peyena, fleeing Napoleon’s armies, which had swept through the Rebbe’s hometown of Liadi three months earlier in their advance towards Moscow.

He was in his 68th year at the time of his passing, and was succeeded by his son, Rabbi DovBer of Lubavitch.

The movement today is the widest reaching group within Judaism.  In nearly every city that has even a tiny Jewish presence, a Chabad community is in place.

1 January in History

In 1892, the Ellis Island Immigrant Station in New York opened. Millions of mostly eastern European Jews would pass through Ellis Island on their way to New York’s Lower East Side or other such urban locations.

25 Tevet in History

Chovat Halvavot, the classical work on Jewish ethics, was authored by Rabbi Bachya ben Yosef ibn Paquda (the first “Rabbeinu Bechayei”) on or before 1161, and translated into Hebrew from the original Arabic by the famed translator R. Judah idn Tibbon in 1167. It was first published on the 25th of Tevet of the year 5319 from creation (1559).

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Rabh Huna pointed out a contradiction: It is written [Hosea, iv. 12]: “For the spirit of lewdness has caused them to err,” and later says [ibid. v. 4]: “The spirit of lewdness is in their insides.” The contradiction can be explained as follows: at first it causes people to err, and afterwards it remains in the body.

Sukkah Chapter 5


30 December in History

In 38 CE, today was the birthdate of Roman Emperor Titus the man who destroyed the Second Temple. The Arch of Titus commemorates the exile of the Israelites.

23 Tevet in History

Following the death of King Joao of Portugal in 1494, his son King Manuel I ascended the throne. When his legitimacy as heir to the throne was challenged, Manuel wished to marry Princess Isabel of Spain, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, in order to solidify his position. As a precondition to the marriage, the Spanish monarch demanded that Portugal expel its Jews—many of whom were refugees from the 1492 Spanish Expulsion who found refuge in the neighboring country of Portugal. Manuel agreed, and five days after the marriage agreement was signed, on Tevet 23 (5257), he issued a decree giving Portugal’s Jews eleven months to leave the country.

Appreciating the Jews’ economic value, Manuel was unhappy with the potential loss of this economic asset, and devised a way to have the Jews stay in Portugal—but as Christians. Initially, he instructed the Jews to leave from one of three ports, but soon he restricted them to leaving from Lisbon only. When October of 1497 arrived, thousands of Jews assembled there and were forcibly baptized. Many Jews decided to stay and keep their Jewish faith secret; they were called Marranos or Crypto-Jews.

Over the next 350 years, the infamous Inquisition persecuted, tortured and burned at the stake thousands of “marranos” throughout Spain, Portugal and their colonies for continuing to secretly practice the Jewish faith.

Faith in its natural state comes with damaging impurities, which are refined in the kiln of ethics and understanding.  Then faith can be revealed in its purity.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook


29 December in History

In 1898, Richard J. H. Gottheil, a professor of languages at Columbia University and a leader in the early American Zionist movement gathered together a group of Jewish students from several New York City universities to form a Zionist youth society. The society was called Z.B.T. which most people know as Zeta Beta Tau fraternity.

22 Tevet in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Gedalia Hertz (1914-1977). Born in Ujazd, near Tomashov, Poland, he left for Lubavitcher Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim in Warsaw after his Bar Mitzvah.

After some years, he went to Grodno to the yeshiva of Rav Shimon Shkop. After marrying in 1935, he moverd to eretz Yisrael and entered the Yeshivas Sfas Emes in Yerushalayim. The following year, the Gerrer Rebbe, the Imrei Emes, decided to open a branch in Tel Aviv, which was later named Yesahivas Chidushei Harim; Rav Gedalia was chosen Rosh Yeshiva while still in his early 20s.

After the founding of the state of Israel, he was chosen to be the representative of the Vaad of Yeshivos to government officials and was instrumental in getting Ben Gurian to accept a deference for all yeshiva students. In 1955, Rav Gedalia became the Rav of the newly established “yeshiva’ kehilla in Sydney, Australia. In 1963, he returned to Yisrael.




The disciples of R. Ishmael taught, “If this hideousness (your evil inclination) has attacked you, take it to the house of learning.

If it is a stone it will be ground to powder, and if it is iron it will be split to pieces.

“If a stone, it will be ground to powder.” as it is written [Is. lv. 1]: “Every one of you that is thirsty, come to water” (since Torah is compared to Torah); and it is written [Job, xiv. 19]: “Water wears out stones.”

“And of iron, it will be split into pieces,” as it is written [Jeremiah, xxiii. 29] “Is not my word like the fire? says God, and like a hammer that splits the rock?”

Sukkah Chapter 5


28 December in History

In 2008, the Israeli Air Force today blew up 40 tunnels that have been used to smuggle arms and terrorists into Gaza. In addition, these tunnels have been important for shoring up Hamas economically. In return for being allowed to open and operate tunnels, Palestinians were forced to pay exorbitant sums to Hamas, which aided the terrorist organization’s military capabilities.

21 Tevet in History

Shimon, the second son of Jacob and Leah and the progenitor of the Israelite tribe of Shimon, was born on Tevet 21 (according to another opinion, on Tevet 28), of the year 2194 from creation (1567 BCE), nine years after Jacob’s arrival in Charan.

R. Yitschak said, “The evil passions of man try to get the better of him all the day long, as it is written [Gen. vi. 5]: “A person’s thoughts were only evil all day long.”

R. Simeon b. Lakish said, “They try to get the better of him, and to slay him, as it is written [Ps. xxxvii. 32]: “The wicked looks out for the righteous, and tries to slay him”.  Were not the Holy One, blessed be He, to aid him, man could not resist, as it is written further, “God will not leave him in his hand, and will not condemn him when he is judged.”

Sukkah Chapter 5


27 December in History

In 1351, Birthdate of King Juan I of Aragon. In 1392, Juan granted amnesty to those who had attacked the Jews of Majorca and the Christians who sheltered them in 1391. At least 300 Jews were murdered. Juan granted the amnesty “because they had done it for the welfare of king and state; and he further declared all debts of the Christians to the Jews to be null and void.”

20 Tevet in History

Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, Talmudist, Halachist, physician, philosopher and communal leader, known in the Jewish world by the acronym “Rambam” and to the world at large as “Maimonides”, passed away in Egypt on the 20th of Tevet in 1204.

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Abayi said, “The evil inclination tempts scholars more than any one else.”

It once happened, Abayi heard a man say to a woman, “Let us rise early, and we will go on the road”; and Abayi thought, “I will follow them, and prevent them from a sin.” He went after them about three miles through reeds, and he heard them saying, “Our conversation has been very pleasant, and now we must take separate roads.”

Abayi said, “My enemy (evil inclination) would not have contained himself.” He leaned against the bolt of the door, and was very sorry that he would have been worse than a common man. And an old man came to him and taught him, “The greater a man is, the more is he tempted by the evil angel.”

Sukkah Chapter 5


26 December in History

In 1634, religious freedom was granted to Jews and Catholics in Brazil. This was the period of time when Brazil was under the control of the Dutch. Things would change in 1654 when Portugal took Recife, Brazil and the Jews were forced to flee.

19 Tevet in History

In a New Orleans fund-raising drive for Christians suffering persecution in Jerusalem, he gave ten times more than any other donor.  One profile of Touro particularly praised his willingness to give both to Jewish and non-Jewish religious causes: “An admirable trait evinced, was the unsectarian distribution of charity, while the donor ever continued a strict adherent to the principles of his faith.” His $20,000 donation to The Jews’ Hospital in New York City (now Mountain Sinai Hospital) led to its opening in 1855.

The 19th of Tevet the yahrtzeit (anniversary of the passing) of American Jewish philanthropist Judah Touro (1775-1854).

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God said to me,

“Don’t say, ‘I am a youth,'”

Wherever I send you, you will go:

Whatever I will command you, you will say.

Do not be afraid of them

Since I am with you, to save you.”

Says God.

Jeremiah 1:7-8


24 December in History

In 1914, during World War I The “Christmas truce” begins on the Western Front. Bruce Bairnsfather, who served throughout the war, wrote: “I wouldn’t have missed that unique and weird Christmas Day for anything. … I spotted a German officer, some sort of lieutenant I should think, and being a bit of a collector, I intimated to him that I had taken a fancy to some of his buttons. … I brought out my wire clippers and, with a few deft snips, removed a couple of his buttons and put them in my pocket. I then gave him two of mine in exchange. … The last I saw was one of my machine gunners, who was a bit of an amateur hairdresser in civil life, cutting the unnaturally long hair of a docile Boche, who was patiently kneeling on the ground whilst the automatic clippers crept up the back of his neck.

For more about this amazing tale read Silent Night: The Story of The World War I Christmas Truce by the Jewish author, Stanley Weintraub.

17 Tevet in History

In 1684, a group of Spanish and Portuguese Jews who fled the Inquisition held a Rosh Hashanah service in New Amsterdam, thereby founding congregation Shearith Israel (“Remnant of Israel”). On this 17th of Tevet in 1728, the congregation purchased a lot in Lower Manhattan to erect the first synagogue in New York.

25 December in History

In 1886, today is the birthdate of Franz Rosenzweig. Born in Germany, Rosenzweig was “an existential philosopher.” According to one description of The Star of Redemption, his seminal philosophic work Rosenzweig “sees the world as consisting of three elements – man , the universe and God, which enter a relationship through revealing themselves to one another. The three points form a triangle, which intersect with a second triangle of creation, revelation and redemption. Their relations become historical forces” which in one case is Judaism – hence the star. Revelation, which is a continuing process of good, leads to redemption. Man helps to bring the universe to redemption by converting his love for God into his love for his fellow man.

Rosenzweig pioneered the construction of a Jewish-Christian relation without polemic, which became the basis for postwar interfaith dialogue.” In his personal life, Rosenzweig fought crippling paralysis with the assistance of his wife. He passed away in 1929.

Quotes from Rosenzwewig: “Jewish prayer means praying in Hebrew.” (This from a man who translated the entire Bible into German) “We owe our survival to a book – the only book of antiquity that is still in living use as a scroll.”

Asked, ‘What does Judaism think about Jesus?” he answered ‘It doesn’t.’

18 Tevet in History

In 1841, today marks the passing of The 18th of Tevet the yahrtzeitof Rabbi Zvi Elimelech Shapiro of Dynov (1783?-1841), author of the Chassidic work B’nei Yissachar.

Isaiah calls the evil inclination a “stumbling-block,” as it is written [Is. lvii. 14]: “And he will say, Cast up, cast up, clear out of the way, lift up every stumbling-block out of the way of my people.”

Ezekiel names the evil inclination “stone,” as it is written [Ezek. xxxvi. 26]: “I will remove the heart of stone out of your body.”

Sukkah Chapter 5


23 December in History

In 1420, the Pope banned conversion of Jewish children done without consent of their parents.

16 Tevet in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Chaim Kreiswirth, Rav and Av Beis Din of Antwerp and son-in-law of Rav Avraham Grodzinski. Rav Chaim was well-known to have memorized Talmud Bavli and Yerushalmi, as well as Rishonim and Acharonim (1920-2001).

Faith in its purity is through rejection of all vanity and wickedness.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook


22 December in History

In 1696, today is the birthdate of James Oglethorpe, founder of the colony of Georgia. In July, 1733, a month after Georgia was founded by James Oglethorpe, forty Sephardic Jews arrived in Savannah.  A year later German Jews arrived in the colony.” The trustees of the colony wanted to discourage the Jewish settlement.

15 Tevet in History

Today marks the passing of the Amora Mashrisha.  He was the student of Rava and lived in the fourth generation of the Amoraim.  On many occasions, he is reported as having conversed with Rava on matters of Jewish law, and many statements of Rava were taught by Mashrisha.

David calls the evil inclination “unclean,” as it is written [Ps. li. 12]: “Create for me a clean heart”; and when he says “a clean heart,” it must be an unclean one.

Solomon calls him “enemy,” as it is written [Prov. xxv. 21]: “If your enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink; for though you gather coals of fire upon his head, yet will the Lord repay it to you.” Do not read שלם (repay it), but שלים (he will make him peaceful toward thee).

Sukkot Chapter 5


21 December in History

In 2008, Hamas officially declared this evening that it would not extend the six-month-old truce between Gaza factions and Israel. The announcement appeared to be anti-climatic since 11 Kassam rockets and five mortar shells had already pounded southern Israel by mid-afternoon.

14 Tevet in History

Today marks the passing of Reuven the son Yaakov Avinu (Jacob our Patriarch).

The Holy One, blessed be He, names the evil inclination “evil,”– “The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen. Viii. 21).

Sukkah Chapter 5


20 December in History

In 1924, Adolf Hitler freed from jail before completing his full sentence. This attests to his growing political power and popularity. Hitler had spent 8 months in Landsberg Prison for his role in the famed, failed 1923 Beer Hall Putsch in Munich. The term was a slap on the wrist and presaged the anarchy that would envelop the Weimar Republic. While in prison, Hitler wrote Mein Kampf, his “literary masterpiece” that was a blueprint for the havoc he would unleash on the world.

13 Tevet in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Moshe ben Dovid Biderman, the Lelover Rebbe (1776-1850 or 1851). Born in abject poverty, he married Rachel Rivka, a daughter of the Yid Hakadosh of P’shischa. After the latter’s death in 1813, he became a chasid of Rav Simcha Bunim of P’shischa, along with his friend, Rav Yitzchak of Vorki.

In 1843, he finally agreed to a leadership position, agreeing to be rav of the community of Przedborz, Poland. In the last years of his life, he decided to move to Eretz Yisrael. He and many of his Chasidim arrived at Akko on Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan. He traveled to Yerushalyim, but immediately took ill. Tragically, between the illness and the Arabs, he was never able to daven at the kosel, his life-long dream. He was succeeded by his son, Rav Elazar Mendel, and a vibrant community of Lelover Chasidim still exist in Eretz Yisrael today.

Sadly, the community in Przedborz – about 4500 Jews – was demolished at Treblinka.

Joel calls the evil inclination the “host of the north,” as it is written [Joel, ii. 20]: “And the host of the north will I remove.” (The expression in Hebrew is Tzephoni, which also signifies the “hidden one,” and they interpret it as the evil spirit which is hidden in the heart of man.)

Sukkah Chapter 5


19 December in History

In 1882, birthdate of Bronislaw Huberman, the Polish born violinist who founded the Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra in 1936. After the creation of the state of Israel, a year after Huberman’s death, the orchestra would change its name to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

12 Tevet in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Moshe Margulies, author of Pnei Moshe on the Yerushalmi in 1781.

The days of King David’s death drew near, and he commanded Shlomo his son, saying:
“I am going the way of the land,
Strengthen yourself, and be a man.
Keep the guard of God your Lord,
To walk in His ways,
To observe His laws, commands, and testimonies,
as is written in the law of Moses;
So that you will be successful in all that you do,
and to which ever area you should turn.

Kings I 2:1-3


17 December in History

In 1894, today is the birthdate of Arthur Fiedler. Fiedler gained fame as the conductor of the Boston Pops which he turned into an American institution. He passed away in 1979.

10 Tevet in History

On the 10th of Tevet of the year 3336 from Creation (425 BCE), the armies of the Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem. Thirty months later — on Tammuz 9, 3338 — the city walls were breached, and on Av 9th of that year, the Holy Temple was destroyed. The Jewish people were exiled to Babylonia for 70 years.

18 December in History

In 1787, New Jersey becomes the third state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Like many of the original thirteen colonies, New Jersey had religious restrictions for holding office that were not removed until the 19th century. By the 1840’s Patterson, NJ, “launched a congregation” and in 1857, the Jews of Elizabeth began meeting for regular worship services. New Jersey’s Jewish experience would prove to be unique because of the success of the agricultural movement that began in 1882 when Michael Heilprin helped a group European immigrants establish Carmel in southern New Jersey.

11 Tevet in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Shlomo Eiger, author of Gilyon Maharsha, son of Rav Akiva Eiger in 1851.

The Messiah b. David, who will appear in the near future, the Holy One, blessed be He, will say to him, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you”, as it is written [Ps. ii. 7-8]: “I will announce the decree . . . Ask it of me, and I will give it.”

But as the Messiah b. David will have seen that the Messiah b. Joseph who preceded him was killed, he will say to God, “Lord of the Universe, I will ask nothing of You but life.”

God will answer, “This was prophesied already for you by your father David [Ps. xxi. 5], ‘Life hath he asked of You, You gave it to him.'”

Sukkah Chapter 5


16 December in History

In 1870, Dr. Isaac Mayer Wise, founder of American Reform Judaism, preached the dedicatory sermon at the laying of the cornerstone of the Central Synagogue, Lexington and Fifty-Fifth Street.

9 Tevet in History

Ezra, who led the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel after the Babylonian exile (423-353 BCE), oversaw the building of the Second Temple, canonized the 24 books of the Holy Scriptures (“bible”) and, as head of the “Great Assembly” legislated a series of laws and practices (including formalized prayer) which left a strong imprint on Judaism to this day, passed away on the 9th of Tevet of the year 3448 from creation (313 BCE — exactly 1000 years after the Giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai). The passing of Ezra marked the end of the “Era of Prophecy.”

Faith in its purity is acquired through the possibility of disbelief.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook



Does overwhelming evidence convince or crush a person?  Consider the Jews after the Golden Calf.


15  December in History

Today in 1930, Seventy-five year old Meier Dizengoff sought re-election as Mayor of Tel Aviv in contest that pits him against Laborite Joseph Aronwitz. Dizengoff was one of the original founders of the city in 1909 and is noted for donating his salary to municipal projects not funded by the city.

8 Tevet in History

In a second attempt to translate the Torah into Greek (after an unsuccessful attempt 61 years earlier), the ruling Greek-Egyptian emperor Ptolemy gathered 72 Torah sages, had them sequestered in 72 separate rooms, and ordered them to each produce a translation. On the 8th of Tevet of the year 3515 from creation (246 BCE) they produced 72 corresponding translations, including identical changes in 13 places (where they each felt that a literal translation would constitute a corruption of the Torah’s true meaning). This Greek rendition became known as the Septuagint, “of the seventy” (though later versions that carry this name are not believed to be true to the originals).

Greek became a significant second language among Jews as a result of this translation. During Talmudic times, Tevet 8 was observed by some as a fast day, expressing the fear of the detrimental effect of the translation.

At first, the evil inclination appears as insignificant and thin as a cobweb, and finally he becomes as thick as a wagon-rope: “Woe unto those that draw iniquity with the cords of falsehood, and as with a wagon-rope, sinfulness” (Isaiah 5:18).

Sukkah Chapter 5


14 December in History

In 1799, President George Washington passed away. Washington’s letters of acceptance to Jewish communities in the early days of the United States set the tone for acceptance that has made it possible for the Jewish community to flourish.

7 Tevet in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Moshe David Walli (Vally; Vali) (1697-1777). The foremost talmid (student) of Ramchal in Padua, Italy, he practiced as a physician in Padova. When the Ramchal was forced to leave Italy, Rav Moshe Dovid was appointed head of the his academy in Padova. Also known as the Rama”d Vali, he wrote a commentary on commentary on Chumash.


In the future the Holy One, blessed be He, will bring the evil inclination and slaughter him in the presence of both the righteous and the wicked.

To the righteous he will look like a high mountain, and to the latter he will look like a thin hair. Both, however, will cry.

The upright will cry, saying, “How could we overpower such a high mountain?” and the wicked will cry, saying, “How could we not overcome such a thin hair?”

Sukkah Chapter 5


13 December in History

In 1250, Frederick II passed away. During his reign as Holy Roman Emperor Frederick created a secular government in Palermo, feat without parallel in the middle ages, with a written constitution that guaranteed the rights of his subjects, be they Christian, Arab, or Jew, and the religious freedom that went along with it.”

When he founded the University of Naples in 1224, “he took care that its faculty included Christians, Muslims and Jews, and that all of these languages were taught, together with the laws and literature of these cultures. Equally remarkable considering the times was Frederick’s edict ordering religious toleration for Christians, Muslims and Jews throughout his realm.”

During the Sixth Crusade, he dealt with the issues through negotiations and not military action. His rule of Jerusalem was marked by a period of “religious toleration for Muslims, Christians and Jews.”

6 Tevet in History

Today marks the passing of Rebbetzin Beila Morgenstern (1908-2006). First-born daughter of the Admor (Chassidic Leader) of Ozerov-Chenchin, Rav Moshe Yechiel Epstein, author of Aish Das and Be’er Moshe.

She married Rav Tzvi Hershel Morgenstern, a descendent of the Kotzker Rebbe. Her husband served as a principal of the Bronx Bais Yaakov. She always recited the entire sefer tehillim (book of Psalms) on the yahrtzeit (date of passing) of every one of her noble forefathers and asked Hasehm that their merit should protect all of the Jewish people. Among her grandchildren are Rav Dovid Altusky and Rav Yechiel Altusky.

He who has not seen the building of the Second Temple, has not seen a handsome building in his life.

Which time of the Second Temple?  It means the building of Herod.

Of what materials was it built? Said Rabba: Of black and white marble; and according to others, of other colors also. He made one tier of stones projecting outward, and one tier of stones remaining inside. He wished to overlay it with gold, but the sages said to him: Leave it so, because it is more beautiful, having the appearance of waves of the sea.

Sukkah Chapter 5


12 December in History

In 1925, the Majlis of Iran votes to crown Reza Khan as the new Shah of Persia. The new Shah removed “removed restrictions on Jews and other religious minorities.’ He prohibited the mass conversion of Jews and “Jews were allowed to hold government jobs.” But the Shah’s sympathetic view of Nazi Germany, along with an under-current of anti-Jewish sentiment, left the community with a sense of discomfort.

5 Tevet in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Shlomo Molcho (1500-1532). Born in Lisbon, Portugal, a descendant of Portuguese Marranos. He published 22 essays on the topic of redemption according to the secrets of Kabbalah in his work, Sefer Hamefoar.

He met with the Pope and asked him to stop the campaign against the Marranos. He also met Rabbi Yossef Karo in Tzfat and the Kabbalist Rabbi Yosef Taitzik of Salonica who taught R’ Molcho Kabbalah.

His speeches inspired many Marranos to publicly return to their faith. Arrested by the officers of the Inquisition, he recited Shema with great joy as he was burned at the stake by Roman Emperor Charles V in Mantua, Italy.

Son of man,
Take one branch  and write on it “For Judah” for Israel and his companions.

Take another branch and write on it “For Yosef;” a branch for Efraim and his companions, the house of Israel.

Bring them one to another, as one branch, and they will become one branch in your hand.

Ezekiel  37:16-17


10 December in History

In 1898, the Treaty of Paris is signed, officially ending the Spanish-American War. Following the war, a number of Jewish veterans settled in Cuba. By 1904, they were able to establish a synagogue in Havana.

3 Tevet in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Yechezkel Ezra Yehoshua, Rav of the Iraqi community in Yerushalayim (1941).

11 December in History

In 1937, at Yeshiva College, Governor Frank Murphy of Michigan speaks at the opening session of a two-day national conference of Jewish organizations which is attended by more than 600 delegates. Dr. Bernard Revel, President of Yeshiva College also addresses the delegates.

4 Tevet in History

Today marks the passing of Rebbetzin Recha Schwab (1908-2003). Married in 1931, she moved with Rav Schwab to the United States in 1936, and settled in Washington Heights in 1958. She left this world with 180 descendents, all Torah-observant.


Please consider a donation to the JNF, the U.S. fundraising arm for of Friends of Israel Firefighters, to help with the wildfires raging in the North of Israel.

Donate here


The old clothes and belts of the priests were torn into shreds for wicks, which they lighted. There was not a court in Jerusalem that was not illuminated by the lights of the water-drawing on Sukkot.

Sukkah Chapter 5



9 December in History

In 1669, Pope Clement IX passed away. The year before his death, the Pope modified the custom of having the Jews run through the streets of Rome as part of the carnival festivities by allowing them to pay heavy fines to avoid the race. This ended two hundred years of humiliation that had been introduced by Pope Paul II in the 15th century.

2 Tevet in History

Today is the final day of Chanukah.

Please consider a donation to the JNF, the U.S. fundraising arm for of Friends of Israel Firefighters, to help with the wildfires raging in the North of Israel.

Donate here


Faith in God and all its unique spiritual qualities needs to be freed from its deficiencies.  It must stand living, shining, in powerful light, which enlightens the entire world from its glorious shine.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook


8 December in History

In 1813, today is the birthdate of August Belmont, the German born financier who “immigrated to New York City in 1837 after becoming the American representative of the Rothschild family’s banking house in Frankfurt.” Belmont carved a niche in American finance and became a leading member of the Democrat Party. Prominent socially, he gave his name to the famed New York racetrack, Belmont Park as well as the third leg of the Triple Crown, “The Belmont Stakes.”

1 Tevet in History

Today, Esther was made Queen to Achashverosh:
“And Esther was taken to King Achashverosh, to his palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tevet, in the seventh year of his reign. And the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won his favor and kindness more than all the virgins; he placed the royal crown on her head and made her queen in Vashti’s stead” (Book of Esther 2:16-17). This set the stage for the miracle of Purim six years later, on the 13th and 14th of Adar of the year 3405 from creation (356 BCE).

A person who has not witnessed the rejoicings at the water-drawing ceremony during the festival of Sukkot, throughout the whole of his life, witnessed no real rejoicing.

Sukkah Chapter 5


7 December in History

In 1941, the Japanese warplanes attacked the home base of the U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, an act that led to America’s entry into World War II. Approximately 500,000 Jews served during World War II. This was about ten per cent of the Jewish Population in the United States, which would have made it higher than the average for other ethnic groups.

30 Kislev in History

Today is the sixth day of Chanukah, and the first day of two days of the New Month festival (Rosh Chodesh) for the month of Tevet.

Today marks the passing of Rav Tzvi Yehuda (Hashi) Friedman (1925-2005). Born in Pressburg, Hungary, Reb Hashi was a descendant of the Chasam Sofer, whose youngest daughter, Rechel, married Reb Tzvi Yehuda Friedman from Topolcany.

In 1944, he was sent to Aushwitz and marched the Death March to Gleiwitz and was transported to Buchenwald. Although his entire family was murdered, he lived another 60 years. He emigrated to Montreal in 1951 and moved to Toronto in 1970. His life was filled with Torah and welcoming guests.

Please consider a donation to the JNF, the U.S. fundraising arm for of Friends of Israel Firefighters, to help with the wildfires raging in the North of Israel.

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The music that was performed when offering sacrifices is a religious service, and does supersede the Sabbath.

Sukkah Chapter 5


6 December in History

In 1896, today was the birthdate of Ira Gershwin. The brother of George Gershwin, Ira carved out his own career as a lyricist for Broadway and Hollywood musicals. He passed away in 1983.

29 Kislev in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Gedalia of Linitz, author of Teshuos Chein (1803). Son of Rav Yitzchak, he was a disciple of the Magid of Mezritch. Rebbe Nachman said about Rav Gedalya of Linitz that he was foremost in the bringing of people to repentance in that generation, even though he never gave lectures and only sat and learned all day.

The Mishna (stated a rule where an uncovered water cannot be used as part of the water libation since it is not clean) is based on the verse in Malachi [i. 8]: “Present it to your governor, will he be pleased with you?, or receive you with favor?

Says the Lord of hosts.

Sukkah Chapter 4


5 December in History

King Manuel I of portugal proclaimed an Edict which demanded the Jews convert to Catholicism or leave the country. However, fearing most Jews would leave rather then convert, the Crown closed the ports, thus halting any potential Jewish sea escape.

28 Kislev in History

Rav Avraham Ravigo (1714). Born in Modena, Italy, he became highly esteemed as both a supporter of Torah and as a great Torah scholar himself. He and a party of 25 set sail from Livorno, Italy, for the Land of Israel in 1702. When they arrived in Jerusalem, his wife, daughter, and closest disciple died in a plague.

He opened a yeshiva; among the ten Rabbanim who learned there was the son-in-law of Rav Yehudah HaChasid. After the passing of Rav Rav Moshe ben Chaviv, Rav Avraham was appointed Rishon Letzion (Chief Rabbi). However, he passed away during one of his trips abroad trying to raise funds.

His student, Rav Mordechai ben Yehudah Leib Ashkenazi, wrote Eshel Avraham on the Zohar and other Kabalistic teachings that he received from Rav Avraham.

Call out and be joyous daughter of Zion; behold I am coming and I will dwell among you, says God.

Many nations will stream to God on that day, and they will be to me a nation. I will dwell among you, and you will that God of hosts has sent me to you.

God will inherit Judah on that day as His portion, on the holy ground, and He will again choose Jerusalem.

Zecharia 2:14-16


3 December in History

In 1878, Settlers arrive at Petach Tikvah in what is now Israel. Petach Tikvah is Hebrew for Gateway of Hope. The land was purchased by Jews living in Jerusalem from a Greek landowner after the Sultan of Turkey had thwarted their efforts to buy land near Jericho. The village they built was in an area prone to malaria outbreaks. In 1882, the settlers gave up the village, due in part to poor harvest. At the time only 66 people were living in ten houses.

26 Kislev in History

Rabbi Avraham ben David of Posquieres (Provence), known by the acronym “Raavad”, wrote the famed hagaot critical notations to Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah. Born approximately 1120, he passed away on the 26th of kislev of the year 4959 from creation (1198).

4 December in History

In 1866, Evelina Gertrude de Rothschild passed away during childbirth. She was a member of the prominent Rothschild banking family of England. Her father Lionel assumed sponsorship of the first school for girls in Israel, opened in Jerusalem in 1864, renaming it the Evelina de Rothschild School.

27 Kislev in History

The forty days and nights of rainfall which covered the face of earth with water in Noah’s time ended on Kislev 27 of the year 1656 from creation (2105 BCE. The flood itself lasted a full year, as related in Genesis 6-8).

“She openeth her mouth with wisdom, and the law of kindness is on her tongue”
[Prov. xxxi. 26]

Are there two laws, one of kindness, and one not of kindness? This means, if one studies the law in honor of the God, it is a law of kindness; but if one studies the law for his own interest, it is a law not of kindness.

According to others, if he studies the law to teach it, it is a law of kindness; but if he studies it for himself, it is not.

Sukkah Chapter 4

2 December in History

In 1264 CE, Sinsig, Germany, a convert to Judaism was arrested for preaching Judaism. Although tortured he refused to recant his belief in Judaism and is burned at the stake.

25 Kislev in History

The first murder of history occurred on the 25th of Kislev in the year 41 from creation (3720 BCE), when Adam and Eve’s eldest son, Cain, killed his younger brother, Abel, as recounted in the 4th chapter of Genesis.

On the 25th of Kislev in the year 3622 from creation, the Maccabees liberated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, after defeating the vastly more numerous and powerful armies of the Syrian-Greek king Antiochus IV, who had tried to forcefully uproot the beliefs and practices of Judaism from the people of Israel. The victorious Jews repaired, cleansed and rededicated the Temple to the service of God. But all the Temple’s oil had been defiled by the pagan invaders; when the Jews sought to light the Temple’s menorah (candelabra), they found only one small cruse of ritually pure olive oil. Miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new, pure oil could be obtained. In commemoration, the Sages instituted the 8-day festival of Chanukah, on which lights are kindled nightly to recall and publicize the miracle.

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December 2010