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R. Meir used to say, of two who fall sick with the same sickness, and of two who enter a for judgment on similar charges, one may recover and one not, one may be acquitted and one condemned.

Why should one recover and one not? Or one be acquitted and one condemned? Because the one prayed and was answered, and one prayed and was not answered.

Why should one be answered and the other not? One prayed devoutly and was answered, the other did not pray devoutly and therefore was not answered.

R. Elazar said it was not because of prayer, but because the one prayed before, and the other after the decree was pronounced.

Rosh Hashanah Chapter 1


4 April in History

In 1609, English navigator Henry Hudson set sail from Amsterdam harbor under direction from his “employer,” the Duct East India Company to sail east in the quest for a shorter water passage to the Indies. Fortunately for the Jewish people, Hudson ignored these instructions and sailed west seeking the fabled Northwest Passage to the Orient. As part of this quest, Hudson sailed past what is now New York on his way up what we know as the Hudson River claiming all of the surrounding for the Dutch. This meant that the 23 Jews who arrived in New Amsterdam landed in a territory controlled by the religiously tolerant Dutch as opposed to a colony controlled Catholic Spain or Catholic France neither of whom would have allowed the Jews to settle.

29 Adar in History

Shortly before sundown on the 29th of Adar, God commanded Moses regarding the mitzvah of sanctifying the crescent new moon and establishing a lunar calendar. This is the first mitzvah the Jews were given as a nation.

According to tradition, Moses had difficulty envisaging the moon’s appearance at the exact moment of its monthly rebirth. After the sun set, God showed Moses the crescent new moon of the new month of Nissan, showing him the precise dimensions of the moon at the moment the new month is to be consecrated.

For the generations that followed, each new month was ushered in when two witnesses testified before the Sanhedrin (rabbinic supreme court) that they had seen the molad, the new moon. In the 4th century CE, Hillel II foresaw that the Jews would no longer be able to follow a Sanhedrin-based calendar. So Hillel and his rabbinical court established the perpetual calendar which is followed today.

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April 2011