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(At the water libation ceremony on Sukkot)

Levi tried in the presence of Rabi to throw and catch eight knives. Samuel tried to do so in the presence of Sha’bur the king with eight goblets full of wine; and Abayi in the presence of Rabha with eight eggs, according to others with four eggs.

Sukkot Chapter 5


9 January in History

In 1873, today was the birthdate of Chaim Nachman Bialik. Born in a Ukrainian village, fatherless at the age of seven, raised by a strict Orthodox grandfather, Bialik became the father of Modern Hebrew poetry. While Herzl, Ben-Gurion and others were busy creating Zionism in the political sphere, Bialik was one of those giving birth to the Zionist dream in the field of culture.

When he began writing his poetry in Hebrew, it was still a language of the Bible – the holy tongue not to be used in modern parlance. Bialik used Hebrew to express modern feelings and emotions, yet always tied back to his Jewish roots. He is variously described as the “poet laureate of the Jewish national movement” and “Israel’s National Poet.”

He gained early fame for his two poems written after the Kishinev Pogrom in 1903 – The City of Slaughter and On the Slaughter. In his poems he attacked the mobs who had slaughtered the Jews. But he also called upon the Jews to resist future attackers. So powerful were his words, that they helped the modern Zionist movement develop its ethic of self-defense. According to some critics, two of his greatest poems are “Metei Midbar” (Dead of the Desert) and “Megillat Ha’esh” (Scroll of Fire).

He passed away in 1934 and his home in Tel Aviv was converted into a museum named in his honor.
He said:

“Reading a poem in translation is like kissing a woman through a veil.”

4 Shevat in History

Today marks the passing of Asher the son Yaakov Avinu (1562-1439 B.C.E.)

You, don’t be afraid my servant Jacob, do not fear Israel,
I will save you from a distance, and your children from a the land of their captivity.
Jacob will return, be quite, tranquil, with no one causing trouble.

Jeremiah 46:27


7 January in Histoy

In 1924, George Gershwin completes “Rhapsody in Blue.”

2 Shevat in History

Hashmonean King Alexander-Yannai (Jannaeus), an avowed enemy of the Jewish sages, died on this date. So great was his cruelty and the ruthlessness with which he persecuted the Sages and those loyal to them (some 50,000 were killed in the years 82-76 BCE), that the day of his death was declared a holiday.

8 January in History

In 1598, Expulsion of the Jews from Genoa, Italy.

3 Shevat in History

Shevat 3 is the yahrtzeit (anniversary of the passing) of Rabbi Yosef ben Rabbi Menachem Kalisch zt”l, the Amshinover Rebbe, in 1935.

Rabbi Judah the Prince used also to say, “To the places which I am fond of, my feet bring me; if you will visit my house, I will visit your house; but if you will not visit my house, I will never visit yours. As it is written [Ex. xx. 21]: “In every place where I will permit my name to be mentioned, I will come to you, and I bless you.”

Sukkah Chapter 5


6 January in History

In 548, this was the last year the Church in Jerusalem observed the birth of Jesus on this date. (Celebrating Christmas on December 25th began in the late 300s in the Western Church.)

1 Shevat in History

On the first of Shevat of the year 2488 from creation Moses convened the Jewish people and began the 37-day “review of the Torah” contained in the Book of Deuteronomy, which he concluded on the day of his passing on Adar 7 of that year.

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Faith is pure when it has no internal compulsion, without any foreign elements.

And even if faith is not fully encompassed in one’s intellect, faith is not restricted.

Never the less, for a person who is graced with intellect, they will not be satisfied without intellectual inquiry, and for such a person the true simplicity of faith will only be established when joined with the light of the intellect.  If such a person finds this intellectual pursuit repugnant, their faith will be filled with dross and bitterness.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook


5 January in History

Today in 1826, Maryland put into effect the “Jew Bill” which allowed Jews to hold public office if they believed in Reward and Punishment in the Hereafter. Maryland was founded by Catholics and the Act of Toleration was one of its landmark pieces of colonial legislation.

29 Tevet in History

According to Rabbi Judah (cited in the Talmud, Bava Metzia 106b), Tevet 29 marks the end of winter. (As per Genesis 8:22, the year consists of six 2-month “seasons”: seedtime, harvest, cold, heat, summer and winter.)



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It was said of Hillel the Elder the Prince: When he rejoiced at the drawing of the water, he used to say, “If I am here, all are here; but if I am not here, who is here?”

Sukkah Chapter 5


28 Tevet in History

According to sources cited in Seder Hadorot, Tevet 28 is both the birthday and the day of passing of Shimon the son of Jacob; other sources place the date as Tevet 21 (1564-1447 BCE).

4 January in History

In 1943, armed with only one gun and knife members of the Jewish Fighting Organization at Czestochowa resisted a ‘selection.’ As a reprisal, the Germans shot 25 men. Czestochowa is a town in Poland famous for the “Black Madonna” and is scene of annual religious pilgrimages. Sometimes, the Jewish view is a little different than the non-Jewish view of places and events.

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R. Johanan said: If it were not for the following three passages, the enemies of Israel (meaning Israel) could not withstand (in other words, without thes following verses, Israel would have no defence when being accused for their sins, since these verses indicate that God place the evil inclination in us):

First [Micah, iv. 6]: “And her to whom I have done evil” (God did evil by giving us an evil inclincation.

The second [Jeremiah, xviii. 6]: “As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel”.

The third is [Ezek. xxxvi. 26]: “I will remove the heart of stone out of your body, and I will give you a heart of flesh.” (Since God has not yet done so, our responsibility for sining with our heart of stone is somewhat mitigated.)

R. Papa says: Also from the following verse [ibid., ibid. 27]: “And my spirit I will put within you.” (Since God has not yet done so, our responsibility for sining with our heart of stone is somewhat mitigated.)

Sukkah Chapter 5


27 Tevet in History

Rabbi Shimshon Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888), Talmudist, scholar, philosopher, prolific author and Rabbi of Frankfurt am Main, passed away on this date. He was instrumental in revitalizing German Jewry, bringing thousands back to the teachings of the Torah at a time when assimilationist trends threatened to extinguish Jewish life in Western Europe.

3 January in History

In 1915,  today was the birthdate of Jack Levine the Boston born American Social Realist painter and printmaker best known for his satires on modern life, political corruption, and biblical narratives.

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Rabha said: In the beginning the evil inclination is called “traveller,” and then “guest,” and then “man,” as it is written in connection to King David’s sin with Bat Sheva [II Sam. xii. 4]: “There came a traveller to the rich man; and he felt compunction to take from his own flocks and from his own herds to dress for the guest that was come to him; but he took the ewe of the poor man, and dressed it for the man that was come to him”

Sukkah Chapter 5


2 January in History

In 1887, The Jewish Theological Seminary Association, the educational and spiritual center of Conservative Judaism, opened under the leadership of Saba Morais. Morais, a Rabbi of Congregation Mikve Israel in Philadelphia, sought to train Rabbis who would help preserve Jewish traditions which he felt were being eroded by the “reformers” and their Pittsburgh platform. In 1902 Solomon Schechter reorganized the Seminary and changed the name to JTS or the Jewish Theological Seminary. it was at this point that it became the central foundation for the Conservative Movement.

26 Tevet in History

On December 25, 1369 (5129), King Frederick III of Sicily ordered all Jews to wear a badge indicating their heritage. The badge consisted of a piece of red material, not smaller than the largest royal seal; men were required to wear it under the chin, and women on the chest.


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.

Donate here


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.

Since the clear perception of the world, the light of the future, preceded the world, the world is not ready for it.  Faith remains the only way to access that clear understanding.  This clear understanding is reveled without a full awareness, only percived through spiritual feeling, closed from the eyes, and very fine.  The heart can sense it.  Yet the masses, who are covered with the veil of physicality…

Those with understanding, taste at all time small drops of the exalted pleasantness of the light of the future.  This was founded on the prayer of Moses and the dedication of the Tabernacle, “May the pleasantness of God be on us, the work of our hands establish on us, and the work of our hands, establish.”

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook


1 December in History

In 1938, the British Cabinet allows 10,000 unaccompanied Jewish children into Britain in an action called the Kindertransport. (Britain, however, refuses to allow 21,000 more Jewish children into Palestine.) The rescued children come from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia with the help of British, Jewish, and Quaker welfare organizations. Because of the Holocaust, most of the children will never see their parents again, and many of the Jewish children will be converted to Christianity.

24 Kislev in History

In 520 BCE, the first year of rule of Cyrus, the King of Persia, Jews were given permission to return to Israel and rebuild the Holy Temple. A group of Jews led by Zerubavel set out for Jerusalem and began working on the second Temple. However, the Cutheans falsely accused the Jews of plotting a rebellion against King Cyrus and were successful in halting the construction of the Holy Temple for the remainder of his reign and throughout the reign of Ahasuerus, his successor. Construction resumed in the second year of the reign of Darius, Ahasuerus’s son, on the 24th of Kislev.

Charity is rewarded only according to the kindness with which it is done; as it is written: “Sow for yourselves righteousness, that you may reap kindness.” (Hosea 10:2)

Sukkah Chapter 4


29 November in History

In 1850, during his Thanksgiving Day sermon, Rabbi Morris Raphael rebuked New York’s Governor Clarke for issuing a proclamation inviting “only patriots and Christians to keep Thanksgiving.” At the same time, he commended Mayor Wood for inviting “all the people” to join in observing the holiday.

22 Kislev in History
Rabbi Eliezer ben Eliyahu Ashkenazi (1512-1585) was a highly regarded Talmudist, as well as a physician. He authored various works, including Ma’ase ha-Shem — a commentary on the historical portions of the Pentateuch, also including a commentary on the Passover Hagaddah — and Yosef Lekach.

In three things is the doing acts of kindness greater than charity: Charity is only with money, but acts of kindness is either with one’s money or with one’s person; charity is only to the poor, but acts of kindness is to poor and rich; charity is only for the living, but acts of kindness are both for the living and the dead.

Sukkah Chapter 4


30 November in History

In 1924, today is the birthdate of songwriter and humorist Allan Sherman author of the famous camp song that began, “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah.”

23 Kislev in History

As the “Black Death” plague decimated Europe, Christians accused the Jews of causing the plague by poisoning the wells in an effort to wipe out the Gentile population.

On the 23rd of Kislev 5109 (Nov. 15, 1348), Rudolph of Oron, bailiff of Lausanne, sent a letter to the mayor of Strasburg informing him that certain Jews of Lausanne had “confessed” under torture that they together with their coreligionists had poisoned all the wells in the Rhine valley. This resulted in the masses persecuting and killing tens of thousands of Jews throughout Europe.


Doing acts of kindness is greater than charity; as it is written [Hosea, x. 12]: “Sow then for yourselves righteousness, that you may reap the fruit of kindness.”

If a man sows, it is doubtful whether he will eat from what he plants or not.  If a man reaps, he is sure to eat of it.

Sukkah Chapter 4


28 November in History

In 1908, today was the birthdate of Claude Levi-Strauss. Born in Belgium, Claude Levi-Strauss was the son of an artist, and a member of an intellectual French Jewish family. He was a popular French anthropologist most well-known for his development of structural anthropology.

21 Kislev in History
On Kislev 21 of the year 3448 from creation (313 BCE), there occurred the historic meeting between Shimon HaTzaddik and Alexander (‘the Great”) of Macedonia.

The Samarians, bitter enemies of the Jews, had convinced Alexander that the Jews’ refusal to place his image in their Temple was a sign of rebellion against his sovereignty, and that the Holy Temple should be destroyed. The Kohen Gadol (“High Priest”) at the time was Shimon HaTzaddik, the last of the “Men of the Great Assembly” who rebuilt the Holy Temple and revitalized Judaism under Ezra. On the 21st of Kislev Alexander marched on Jerusalem at the head of his army; Shimon, garbed in the vestments of the High Priest and accompanied with a delegation of Jewish dignitaries, went out to greet him.

The two groups walked towards each other all night; at the crack of dawn they met. As Alexander beheld the face of the High Priest, he dismounted his horse and bowed respectfully; to his men he explained that he often had visions of a similar-looking man leading him into battle.

Shimon HaTzaddik brought the emperor to the Holy Temple and explained that Judaism prohibits the display of any graven image; he offered to name all the male children born to priests that year “Alexander” as a demonstration of loyalty to the emperor (which is how “Alexander” became a common Jewish name). The Samarians plot was rebuffed, and Kislev 21 was declared a holiday. (Talmud Yoma 69a)

According to an alternative version, this episode occurred on the 25th of Tevet.

Listen to these words, that God speaks to you, Children of Israel; to the entire family that I have raised from the Land of Egypt:

Only you have I known, from all the families of the land;

Therefore I will take account of all of your sins.

Amos 3:1-2


26 November in History

In 1944, as World War II entered its last phase, the Germans decided to hide all evidence of the mass murders. On orders from Himmler the gas chambers and crematoria at Auschwitz and Birkenau were blown up.

19 Kislev in History

Today marks the passing of Rabbi DovBer, known as “The Maggid of Mezeritch”, was the disciple of, and successor to, the founder of Chassidism, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov. Rabbi DovBer led the Chassidic movement from 1761 until his passing on Kislev 19, 1772.

27 November in History

In 1924, in the New York City the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was held. Macey’s was not founded by Jews, but it was two Jews, Isidor and Nathan Straus, who took control of the store in 1896 who turned into what was then “biggest department store in the world.”

20 Kislev in History

In 347 BCE, Ezra, head of the Sanhedrin and the leader of the Jewish people at the time of the building of the Second Temple, made an historic address to a three-day assemblage of Jews in Jerusalem, exhorting them to adhere to the teachings of the Torah and to dissolve their interfaith marriages; the Jewish people were on the verge of complete assimilation at the time, following their 70-year exile in Babylonia.

The doing of charity is greater than all the sacrifices; as it is written [Prov. xxi. 3]: “To exercise righteousness and justice is more acceptable to God than sacrifice.”

Sukkah Chapter 4


25 November in History

In 1864, British statesman Benjamin Disraeli declared in a speech: ‘Man is a being born to believe, and if no church comes forward with all the title deeds of truth, he will find altars and idols in his own heart and his own imagination.’ Disraeli had been baptized at his father’s insistence. Disraeli was proud of his Jewish heritage and often vilified for it by his political enemies.

18 Kislev in History
Today marks the passing of Rabbi Abraham Maimuni HaNagid (also called “Rabbi Avraham ben HaRambam”) was the only son of Maimonidies (the famed Talmudist, codifier of Jewish Law, philosopher, physician and statesmen, Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, 1135-1204). Born in 1185, Rabbi Abraham succeeded his father as the leader of the Jewish community in Fostat (old Cairo), Egypt, at the tender age of 19. He wrote many responsa and commentaries explaining and defending his father’s writings and Halachic rulings. Rabbi Abraham passed away on the 18th of Kislev of the year 4998 from creation (1237).

The world view that be revieled in the future, when the world is renewed and is reveled in its new light, this is in truth the Israeli worldview even today.

Since this world view preceded time, it is not bound by time.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook


24 November in History

In 1884, today is the birthdate of Yitzchak Ben-Zvi, the second President of Israel. After the death of Chaim Weitzman, Ben-Zvi was elected in 1952. He served until his death in April of 1963.

17 Kislev in History

In 348 BC, on this day, Ezra the Scribe went up to the Holy Temple and fasted, prayed, and cried in public. While he prayed and confessed, weeping and prostrating himself in front of the Temple, a large assemblage of men, women, and children gathered around him.

At that time, all of the assembled priests and Israelites swore to send away their non-Jewish wives. Ezra then issued a proclamation that all Jews residing in Israel should assemble in three days’ time in Jerusalem


“The roundness of your thighs” (Psalm of Psalms 7:2)

As the thighs are in a hidden place, so the words of the Law must all be hidden.

Sukkah Chapter 4


23 November in History

In 1924, Herzliya was founded as a moshav. It has since become a flourishing town on the Mediterranean coast.

16 Kislev in History

On this day, the bottom of the Noah’s ark, submerged 11 cubits beneath the water’s surface, touched down and came to rest on the top of Mount Ararat.

“How beautiful are your steps in sandals, O prince’s daughter! How beautiful were the steps of Israel, when they pilgrimaged for the festival!” (Psalms of Psalms 7:2)

“Prince’s daughter” means, daughter of Abraham our father, who was called prince; as it is written [Ps. xlvii. 10]: “The nobles of the people are gathered together, the people of the God of Abraham.”

What does it say, “The God of Abraham,” and not the God of Isaac and Jacob? It means, the God of Abraham, who was the first of the converts.

Sukkah Chapter 4


22 November in History

In 1940, Prime Minister Winston Churchill writes to Lord Lloyd, the Secretary of State for the Colonies who is an opponent of Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel, cautioning him to make that Jewish internees on island of Mauritius be treated humanely.

15 Kislev in History

Today marks the passing of Reb Yehuda HaNasi, son of Rav Shimon ben Gamliel, and redactor of the Mishna (120-192 CE).

If one have before himself many religious duties, he can say: “Blessed be He who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded to us many duties.”

R. Jehudah, however, said: He must pronounce the benediction before each one separately.

The Halakha is according to R. Jehudah.

What is the reason of R. Jehudah?

Because it is written [Ps. lxviii. 20]: “Blessed be the Lord, day by day.”

Sukkah Chapter 4



21 November in History

In 164 BCE on the secular calendar,  Judas Maccabaeus, son of Mattathias of the Hasmonean family, restores the Temple in Jerusalem, events commemorated each year by the festival of Channukah.


14 Kislev in History

Reuben, the eldest son of Jacob and Leah, was born in Charan (Mesopotamia) on the 14th of Kislev of the year 2193 from creation (1568 BCE).  He died on his 125th birthday in 2318 (1443 BCE).

Today marks the passing of Rav Menashe ben Yisrael of Amsterdam, author of Nishmas Odom. He was as friend of Rembrandt van Rijn, who apart from making an etching of the Rabbi also illustrated his books. It was Rabbi Menashe, whom together with Rabbi Jacob Sasportas, pleaded with Oliver Cromwell to allow the Jews to settle in England on philosophical and theological grounds.


The House of Jacob will be fire,
The House of Joseph flame,
The House of Esav will be the straw:

They will burn and devour it,
No surveyor will be left of the House of Esav,

God has spoken.


The liberators will march on Mt. Zion and wreak judgement on the Mt. Esav, and dominion will be God’s.

Ovadiah 1:18; 21


19 November in History

In 1909, at the request of the Hahambashi, the Grand Vizier of Turkey directed the Minister of War to appoint Jewish chaplains to battalions where Jews serve, to grant soldiers the ability to observe the high holidays and to facilitate they be provided with kosher food. The Hahambashi also requested that all teachers in Jewish school and rabbinical students be granted an exemption from military service.

12 Kislev in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Avraham Dov Auerbach of Avritch and Tzefat (1765-1840). He was a disciple of Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev and the first two Rebbes of Chernobyl. Rebbe of Avritch from 1785, he moved to Tzefat in 1830 at the age of 65.

He is the author of Bas Ayin, a commentary on Chumash.

In the deadly earthquake of 24 Tevet 5597 (January 1, 1837), 5,000 people lost their lives, of whom 4,000 were Jews. Although most of the community of the Avritcher Rebbe collapsed, the part where the men were clustered remained upright and everyone was saved. He is buried in the old cemetery of Tzefas.

20 November in History

In 1272, Edward I proclaimed King of England. Edward is remembered as the English king, who, after stripping the Jews of their wealth, expelled them from his realm in 1290.

13 Kislev in History

In the first decades of the 5th century, Rav Ashi (d. 427) and Ravina I (d. 421) led a group of the Amoraim (Talmudic sages) in the massive undertaking of compiling the Babylonian Talmud — collecting and editing the discussions, debates and rulings of hundreds of scholars and sages which had taken place in the more than 200 years since the compilation of the Mishnah by Rabbi Judah HaNassi in 189.

The last of these editors and compilers was Ravina II, who passed away on the 13th of Kislev of the year 4235 from creation (475 CE); after Ravina II, no further additions were make to the Talmud, with the exception of the minimal editing undertaken by the Rabbanan Savura’i (476-560). This date marks the point at which the Talmud was “closed” and became the basis for all further exegesis of Torah law.

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.

Abayai said,  “There are no less than thirty-six upright people in the world who receive the appearance of the Divine Presence every day, as it is written [Is. xxx. 18]: “Happy are those that wait for Him (לו),” Him has the numerical value of 36.

Sukkah Chapter 4


16 November in History

In 1921, today is the birthdate of Ben Weisman an American composer and pianist best known for having written many of the songs associated with Elvis Presley. A native of Providence, Ben Weisman was one of Elvis Presley’s chief songwriters throughout the 1960s. He co-composed for Elvis’ movies and stage performances nearly sixty songs that proceeded to go gold or platinum, including “First in Line”, “Got a Lot of Living to Do”, “Follow That Dream” and “Wooden Heart”.

Weisman also wrote songs recorded by Barbra Streisand (“Love in the Afternoon”), The Beatles (“Lend Me Your Comb”), Johnny Mathis (“When I Am with You”), Terry Stafford (“I’ll Touch A Star”), Bobby Vee (“The Night Has A Thousand Eyes”) and many others. Since Weisman’s outward appearance was atypical for a “rock ‘roll guy”, Elvis’ pet nickname for him was “the mad professor”.

Just before Weisman’s last meeting with Elvis in 1976, Elvis proudly announced to the crowd that he had recorded more of Weisman’s songs than those of any other songwriter. Weisman’s most recent musical score was for the 1995 movie Crossroads at Laredo: The Lost Film of Edward D. Wood Jr.

9 Kislev in History

Rav Dov Ber Schneerson of Lubavitch (1773-1827), 2nd Lubavitcher Rebbe, known as the Mitteler Rebbe. He was the son and successor of his father Rav Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the Baal HaTanya (the Alter Rebbe), and uncle and father-in-law of the Tzemach Tzedek.

Rav Dov Ber assumed the leadership of Chabad upon his father’s passing in 1812. In 1813 he settled in the town of Lubavitch, which was to serve as the movement’s headquarters for the next 102 years. In 1826, Rabbi Dov Ber was arrested by the Czarist government on slanderous charges.

His day of release, Kislev 10 is celebrated to this day as a “festival of liberation” among Lubavitch chassidim.

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai said, “I see the greatest men in the world are very few. If they are a thousand, I and my son are included; if they are a hundred, I and my son are included, and if they are only two, they are I and my son.”

Sukkah Chapter 4



What lesson is Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai teaching?


15 November in History

In 1660, Asser Levy was licensed as the first kosher butcher in New York City. From such humble beginnings came such great institutions as the Second Avenue Deli.

8 Kislev in History

Rav Eliezer Geldzahler (1958-2004), born to Rav Eliyahu Yehoshua Geldzahler, founder of Mosdos Ohr Yisrael of Queens and a student of Rav Shraga Feivel Mendelowitz, Rav Reuven Grozovsky, and Rav Gedaliah Schorr. Rav Eliezer’s mother, Henna Freidel, was the daughter of Rav Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler. As a child, he learned in his father’s yeshiva, where he made a siyum (completion celebration) for Gemara Bava Basra before his Bar Mitzvah. As a bachur (student), he learned at Yeshiva Zichron Yaakov in South Fallsburg under Rav Elya Ber Wachtfogel. From there, he went to Yerushalayim to learn in the yeshiva of Rav Dovid Soleveitchik. He spent several years in the Lakewood Kollel.

In 1980, he married Baila, the daughter of Rav Michel and Rebbetzin Feige Twersky of Milwaukee. He opened Yeshiva Ohr Yisrael in Brooklyn and served as its Rosh yeshiva, developing a mesivta and a yeshiva gedola. In January of 2004, the bus he was on in Israel was involved in a crash, and he was critically injured. He never recovered from his injuries and passed away 10 months later.

Hezekiah said in the name of R. Yirniha in the quoting R. Shimon Bar Yoahai, “I could exempt the entire world from from its judgement from the day I was created until now.  And, if you include my son Elazar with me, together we could exempt the world from its judgement from the day the world was created until now.

Sukkah Chapter 4

Rashi comments: Exempt: in my merit, I could bare all the deeds and sins of everyone, and exempt them from judgement.


The Mahrasha comments that R. Shimon Bar Yohai was making this statement in reference to the suffering he and his son endured while hiding in the cave to escape from the Roman authorities.


1.  Why does physical anguish alleviate  judgement?

2.  What does R. Shimon’s statement indicate about the interrelated connection between leaders and the rest of humanity?

3. Notice R. Shimon does not limit his statement to the Jewish people, but to all of humanity.


14 November in History

In 1916, today is this birthdate of writer and producer, Sheldon Schwartz. Schwartz is another Jew who played a key role in the creation of what some call middlebrow American culture. He wrote for Ozzie and Harriet, produced The Brady Bunch and created and produced Gilligan’s Island.

7 Kislev in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Dovid Sinzheim of Strasbourg, France (1745-1812). He served as President of the “Sanhedrin” established by Napolean, the first meeting of which occurred on February 9th, 1807.

On October 6, 1806, the Assembly of Notables issued a proclamation to all the Jewish communities of Europe, inviting them to send delegates to the Sanhedrin, to convene on October 20. This proclamation, written in Hebrew, French, German, and Italian, speaks in extravagant terms of the importance of this revived institution and of the greatness of its imperial protector. While the action of Napoleon aroused in many Jews of Germany the hope that, influenced by it, their governments also would grant them the rights of citizenship, others looked upon it as a political contrivance. When in the war against Prussia (1806–7) the emperor invaded Poland and the Jews rendered great services to his army, he remarked, laughing, “The sanhedrin is at least useful to me.”


So says God,
“A voice cries in Rama,
Wailing, bitter crying is heard,
Rachel is crying for her children,
She refuses to be consoled,
Since they are gone.”

So says God,
“Refrain your voice from crying,
Your eyes from tears,
There is a reward for your work, says God,
They will return from the lands of the enemies.”

Yermiah 31


12 November in History

In 1933, the Nazis received 92% of vote in Germany only a few months after gaining power through an electoral squeaker.

5 Kislev in History

Kislev 5 is the yahrtzeit (date of the passing) of Rabbi Shemuel Eliezer Eidel’s (1555-1631), known by the acronym “Maharsha”. Rabbi Shmuel authored a highly regarded and widely used commentary on the Talmud and its primary commentaries, Rashi and Tosfot.

13 November in History

In 2007, while visiting Israel, Ukranian President Viktor Yuschenko promised followers of Reb Nachman that he would protect the gravesite from sale or commercial exploitation.

13 Kislev in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Yaakov Moshe Charlap (1883-1951). Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Merkaz Harav and Rav of Yerushalayim’s Sha’arei Chessed neighborhood. He was a close disciple of Rav Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook. Author of Mei Marom and Michtavei Marom.

A person must not walk on the eve of Sabbat more than three Parsaoth.

R. Kahna said, “The case is when he goes home, and his family does not know that he will come, and do not prepare anything for him for Sabbath; but if he is going to an inn, he may walk more, because he has prepared everything that is necessary for Sabbath.”

According to others, R. Kahna said that, “even to his house he shall not go, so much the less to an inn.” And he added to this, “It once happened to me that I was coming home late on the eve of Sabbath, and my family did not expect me: I did not find even small fish prepared for Sabbath.”

Sukkah Chapter 4


11 November in History

In 1918, the Western Allies and the Germans signed an Armistice that signified the official end of World War I with an Allied victory. Out of the estimated 1,506,000 Jewish soldiers in all the armies approximately 170,000 were killed and over 100,000 cited for valor. In Germany alone over 100,000 Jews fought for the Fatherland with 12,000 killed. According to Winston Churchill some 60,000 Jews had fought in the Armed Forces of the British Empire. Of these 2,324 gave their lives for the cause and 6,350 were wounded. Five Jewish soldiers won the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest decoration and another 1,533 won other awards for bravery. Considering the small size of the Jewish population, Churchill described the Jewish participation as disproportionately high for such a small number of people.

4 Kislev in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Yaakov Dovid Kalish (1803-1878), founder of the Amshinov dynasty. Reb Yaakov Dovid’s father was Rav Yitzchak of Vorka, a leading disciple of Rav Simcha Bunim of Peshischa and a peer of Rav Menachem Mendel of Kotzk.

When Rav Simcha Bunim of Peshischa passed away in 1827, his followers split into two streams, some of them following Rav Menachem Mendel of Kotzk whose emphasis was on fiery self-discipline, while the remainder adhered to Rav Yitzchak of Vorka whose approach was one of warmth and love. In 1848, when Rav Yitzchak of Vorka passed away, many of his followers wished to follow Rav Yaakov Dovid of Amshinov. He, too, followed the Vorka tradition of kindness and outreach. Rav Yaakov Dovid set up court in the town of Mszczonow, Poland, which became known to Jews as Amshinov. There, he became known as the rebbe of Amshinov.

Meanwhile, Rav Yaakov Dovid’s brother, Rav Menachem Mendel, continued the Vorki dynasty from their father in Vorki itself (1779-1848). Rav Menachem, the oldest of Rav Yaakov Dovid’s three sons, inherited the mantle of Amshinov from his father for 40 years.

The great faith that is in the heart of Israel, has no example and no parable.  Even the ‘non-believers’ of Israel are filled with faith and holiness, so much more than all other nations.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook


10 November in History

In 1509, Emperor Maximilien issued a second mandate reproaching the Jews of Frankfort for disobeying his first edict and ordering the confiscation of the their holy books to continue.

3 Kislev in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Yaakov Moshe Kulefsky (1921-2000). Born in St. Louis, he learned at Torah Vadaas in his early 20s, while serving in the army. He married Sarah Gartenhaus in 1950 and joined Yeshiva Ner Israel in 1954. He became Rosh yeshiva and replaced Rav Yaakov Weinberg after the latter’s passing.

Rav Kulefsky left two sons (Tzvi Hirsch and Nosson) and three daughters [Esther Chana (Abraham), Ettie (Rosenbaum), and Faigi (Gruman)], 40 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.

A person does not take the Lulav on the Sabbath.

Rabba explained: As a precautionary measure, so one will not carry it to an expert and learn how to perform the obligation, and at the same time one will carry it four spans in public, violating the prohibition of carrying on the Sabbath.

Sukkah Chapter 4

9 November in History

In 1837, British philanthropist Moses Montefiore, 52, became the first Jew to be knighted in England. Montefiore was a banking executive who devoted his life to the political and civil emancipation of English Jews.

2 Kislev in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Akiva Sofer of Pressburg (1960), author of Daas Sofer.  Son of Rav Simcha Bunim Sofer (The Shevet Sofer), grandson of the Kesav Sofer (Rav Avraham Shmuel Binyamin Sofer) and the great-grandson of the Chasam Sofer (Rav Moshe Sofer). Interestingly, three continuous generations – the Chasam Sofer, the Kesav Sofer, and the Shevet Sofer – all served as Rav of Pressburg for 33 years. When Rav Akiva Sofer neared his 33rd year as Rav, he asked his uncle, the Erlauer Rav, what to do. Upon his uncle’s advice, the Daas Sofer moved to Eretz Yisrael in 1940, saving himself from the horrors of Worl War II.

What is the source that obligates us to accustom children to performing the commandments, as soon as they are capable?  “Moses commanded us a Torah; an inheritance to the community of Jacob.” (Deut 33:4)

Sukkah Chapter 3



8 November in History

In 1936, the Maccabees, the champion soccer team from Palestine, plays the final contest of their U.S. tour today at Yankee Stadium. The game is the 11th contest of the tour which has left the Jewish team with a record of 6, 2 and 2.

1 Kislev in History

As per the Talmud, the month of Kislev marks the onset of the winter season in the Holy Land and is the third month of the “Season of the Rains.”

A child who knows how to shake the Lulav is obligated to perform this commandment. If he knows how to wrap himself in a prayer shawl, he is bound to perform the duty of Tzitzith; if he is able to take care of Tefilin, his father may buy for him Tefilin. As soon as he can talk, his father should teach him the Torah, and to read Shema.

Sukkah Chapter 3


7 November in History

In 1916, Woodrow Wilson was re-elected President of the United States. From a Jewish perspective, Wilson is best known for his appointment of Louis Brandeis to the Supreme Court. Wilson enjoyed the support of many of Jewish leaders and Jews played an active role in the peace negotiations at Versailles that marked the conclusion of World War I.

30 Cheshvan in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Asher (Oscar) Fasman (1908-2003). Born in Chicago, he served as Rav in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Ottowa, Canada, before returning to Chicago. He developed Hebrew Theological College from an afternoon only school to a full-time yeshiva, bringing gedolei Torah as Roshei Yeshiva. He was president of the yeshiva from 1946 to 1964, and also served as president of the Chicago Rabbinical Council and rav of Congregation Yehuda Moshe in Lincolnwood, Illinois. His son, Rav Chaim Fasman, is Rosh Kollel in Los Angeles.

From the sun’s shining until it has gone,
My Name is great among the nations.

Every place where incense and offerings are, the are for my Name, and the pure flour offering.

My Name is great among the nations, says God.

Malachi 1:11


5 November in History

In 1902, Herzl’s London representative, Leopold Greenberg, met Lord Cromer, British Counsel-General in Egypt, and Egyptian prime minister Boutros Ghali Pasha. He succeeded in winning them over to the Zionist cause.

6 November in History

In 1840, at Constantinople, Sultan Abd Al-Majid issued a statement declaring that Jews did not use blood in their ceremonies, and for any of the Sultan’s subjects to say the Jews did was not truth. Moses Montefiore met with the Sultan and helped to secure this Decree.  The Sultan issued the firman to protect the Jews of Rhodes and in Damascus, who were being persecuted by this old anti-Semitic remark.

28 Cheshvan in History

Today marks the passing of Rabbeinu Yonah (ben Avraham) of Gerondi, France (1200 [1180]-1263). The Ramban’s mother and Rabbeinu Yonah’s father were siblings. Many years later, the Ramban’s son, Rav Shlomo, married the daughter of Rabbeinu Yonah. Thus, the two great rishonim were mechutanim (related through marriage) as well as first cousins. He was a student of Rav Shlomo ben Avraham Min Ha’Har. When King Louis XIV of France, “Saint” Louis,” burnt all the copies of the Talmud in Paris in the Square of the Louvre, Rabbeinu Yonah, one of the Rambam’s main detractors, felt that the events in Paris were a sign that he and the other opponents of the Rambam were seriously wrong. He then composed his work Shaarei Teshuvah (Gates of Repentence), in which he outlined the methods of doing Teshuvah (repentence), and he traveled from place to place preaching about the need to back away from matters which cause division among the Jewish People.  Among his students are the Rashba and Ra’ah.

29 Cheshvan in History

The city of Mumbai, India, was hit with a series of coordinated terror attacks, starting on Wednesday evening, the 29th of Cheshvan 5769, which left close to 200 dead and scores more injured.

One of the terrorists’ chosen targets was the local Chabad House, known as the “Nariman House,” operated by Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries Rabbi Gavriel Noach (Gabi) and Rivkah (Rivki) Holtzberg.

In the subsequent standoff, which continued until Friday afternoon, Gabi and Rivki and several other Jews in the Chabad House – Rabbis Bentzion Chroman and Leibish Teitelbaum, Norma Schwartzblatt-Rabinowitz and Yocheved Orpaz – were killed in cold blood.

Miraculously, the Holtzbergs’ two-year-old child, Moshe, was saved by his nanny.


R. Jeremiah asked R.. Zrika, “Why do we say the blessing (Blessed are You, God, ruler of the universe, who commanded us to take the Lulav) and only mention Lulav in the blessing (and not any of the other fruits)?”

He answered, “It is higher than the other kinds.”

“But let one lift up the citron, and pronounce the benediction over it?”

He answered, “Because by nature it grows higher than the other kinds.”

Sukkah Chapter 3




4 November in History

In 1956, an IDF force of 180 vehicles successfully made the trek through the Sinai wilderness and took Sharm es Sheikh from the Egyptians. After six hours of fighting, the IDF prevailed and opened the Straits of Tiran.

27 Cheshvan in History

On the 27th of Cheshvan of the year 1657 from creation (2104 BCE) “the earth dried” (Genesis 8:14) completing the 365-day duration of the great flood that wiped out all life on earth save for the eight human beings and and the animals (two of each species) in Noah’s ark; on this day God commanded Noah to “Come out of the ark” and repopulate, settle and civilize the earth.


When the greatest faith shines on the soul, the entire world is filled with light; a tremendous, inclusive capability,  the great light that shines on the soul of those who are holy to God, clinging to the Life of all the worlds.

Just as capability and limited strength appear at the beginning of one’s picture of holiness, so it grows and raises in the intelect and in action until: “You will decree, and it will be established for you; light will shine on your ways.” (Job 22:28)

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook


3 November in History

In 1604, today was the birthdate of Osman II, a Sultan who reigned during the 17th century which was a period of decline for the Ottoman Empire and its Jewish subjects. Unlike many of his predecessors, it appears that Osman did not employ an Jews as court physicians or close advisors.

26 Cheshvan in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Raphael Hoken of Hamburg (1723-1803). Born in Liphland to Rav Yekusiel Ziskind, the Rav of the town, Reb Raphael was taken to learn with the Shaagas Aryeh (the great Torah scholar), a relative of theirs, in Minsk, at the age of 12.

At the age of 19, Rav Raphael replaced his rebbi as Rosh Yeshiva in Minsk. Four years later, he was chosen as Rav of Rakow, and later of Smilowitz. In 1763, he became Rav in Pinsk. There he wrote Toras Yekusiel on Yoreh Deah, with an appendix of laws pertaining to agunos (married women who have been left by their husbands).

Later he became Rav in Posen, and in 1776 of the three kehillos of Atuna, Hamburg, and Wandsbeck (AH”U). He also authored Sheilos Hakohanim Torah on the service the priests served in the Temple, Sh’Ut Veshav Hakohen, Mapei Lahon on the prohibition of slander, and Daas Kedoshim.



If one is traveling, and has no Lulav, when he gets home he must shake it before his meal. If he has not done it in the morning, he must do it toward evening: the obligation may be done during the whole day.

Sukkah Chapter 3

2 November in History

In 1898, Theodore Herzl was part of a delegation of Jews who met with Kaiser Wilhelm II in Jerusalem. Herzl’s meeting with the Kaiser was part of his plan to rebuild the Jewish national home by gaining the support of leading political leaders. The Kaiser had his own agenda in the East. A settlement of German Jews in the Middle East would have provided him with leverage in dealing with the English in Egypt. But the Kaiser was afraid to give Herzl too much support lest he offend the Turks who ruled the ancient Jewish homeland.

In the end, Herzl accomplished much less with this meeting than he thought he had.

25 Cheshvan in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Elya Yurkanski (1908-2005). Born in Minsk, he and two brothers were smuggled over the order to Poland, on a recommendation by the Chafetz Chaim; Reb Elya was not yet a Bar Mitzvah, and he would never again see his parents. He spent almost 10 years in Baranovich with Rav Elchonon Wasserman before leaving for Mir in 1929. He traveled with the yeshiva to Shanghai and eventually join the yeshiva in New York, where he remained his entire life.

He was a Rosh Yeshiva with Mir for over 55 years.

The Lulab must be held in the right hand, and the citron in the left hand. Why is this? Because with the Lulav three commands are performed, and with the citron only one.

Sukkah Chapter 3


1 November in History

Today in 1880, it was the birthdate of the person who said, “To dream of the person you would like to be is to waste the person you are.” “Writing comes more easily if you have something to say.” “The lash may force men to physical labor; it cannot force them to spiritual creativity.”

Novelist and playwright Sholem Asch (pronounced shō’lum ăsh). Born in Poland Asch first wrote in Hebrew but switched to Yiddish. His writings were well received and he was quite popular. He moved to the United States before World War I and his popularity continued to grow. He became a citizen in the 1920’s. However, during the late 1930’s and 1940’s he wrote a trilogy of novels that dealt with Christianity. The works were well received by the general public, but the Yiddish world rejected the works because of the subject matter. The Forward(newspaper) refused to publish any more of his writings.

In the 1950’s, Asch settled in a suburb of Tel Aviv. After his death in 1957, his home in Israel was turned into a Sholem Asch museum.

Sholem Asch, who said,  “The sword conquered for a while, but the spirit conquers forever!”

24 Cheshvan in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Nachum Dov HaKohen Kreisman (1923-2004). Born in the town of Rakishok in Lithuania’s Ponovezh district from a famous line of rabbanim who served in the Rakishok rabbinate for nine consecutive generations, ending with HaRav Betzalel Yalovetzky.

As a student he went to Yeshivas Telz, where he studied under Rav Eliyahu Meir Bloch. He settled in Baltimore and enrolled at Ner Yisrael, where he studied under Rav Yaakov Yitzchak Ruderman. When Rav Aharon Kotler came to Baltimore, Rav Ruderman sent two students to the train station to meet him: Nachum Dov and Shmuel Kamenetsky. Noting the high caliber of the two young men Rav Kotler took them back with him to New York in preparation for starting Yeshivas Lakewood.

In 1954, Rav Kreisman moved to Eretz Yisrael and married, and in 1967, he was chosen to serve as a dayan by Rav Yosef Shalom Eliashiv, Rav Betzalel Zolti, the Rav of Jerusalem, and Rav Shlomo Shimshon Karelitz.

In the days of the Temple, the Lulav was used in the Temple all the seven days of the festival.  In the rest of the land of Israel the Lulav was only used one day. When the Temple was destroyed, R. Johanan b. Zakkai decreed, “Everywhere, the Lulav should be used all the seven days, in memory of the Temple.”

What is the source that teaches that actions must be done in memory of the Temple?  We infer it from Jeremiah’s lament, when he says, “This is Zion, whom no one seeks after” (Jeremiah 30:17).  From this we learn that we should seek after her.

Sukkah Chapter 3


31 October in History

In 1571, Luther posted 95 theses on Wittenberg church starting the Protestant Reformation. From the point of view of Jewish history it is ironic that Luther took his action on Halloween, the holiday known for trick or treat. In his battle with the Pope, Luther sought to gain the support of the Jews. He publicly admitted that Christians had ill-treated the Jews and it was time to change. He believed that once the Jews experienced Christian love, Jews would embrace his version of Christianity en masse. When the Jews refused to convert, Luther turned on them and became a virulent anti-Semite. At the same time, the Jews would become the unwitting victims as the Protestants and Catholics engaged in a variety of religious wars that would consume Europe for the next one hundred years.

23 Cheshvan in History

In Talmudic times, Cheshvan 23 was a Hasmonian holiday that commemorated the day on which the stones of the altar which were defiled by the Greeks were removed from the Holy Temple.

King David responded and said, “Call for me Bat Sheva.”  She came before the King, and she stood.

The King promised and said, “As God lives, who has saved my soul from every trouble, as I have promised to you, in the name of the Lord, God of Israel: Shlomo your son will reign after me, and he will sit on my throne in my place; I will make it happen today.”

Bat Sheva bowed with her face to the ground, prostrating herself toward the King, and she said, “Let my master, the King David, live forever.”

Kings I 1:31


29 October in History

In 1833, all Jews except for peddlers and petty traders were granted civic equality in the Germanic domain called Hesse-Cassel. The remainder of Germany took nearly forty years to follow suit.

30 October in History

In 1270, the Eighth Crusade comes to an ignominious end. The crusade started under the banner of France’s anti-Semitic King Louis IX. But he died of stomach ailment in August. Effective leadership devolved to Charles, King of Naples. The crusaders got no further than Tunis. The crusaders agreed to lift their siege of the Arab capital in exchange for commercial advantages. The crusaders went home having failed to accomplish any of their own noble aims. Considering the miseries that the Crusaders heaped on the Jews, they were just as glad to finally glad to see them come to an end after almost two centuries.

21 Cheshvan in History

Today marks the passing of Rav David ben Zimra, the Radbaz (1480-1573). Arriving in Tzefat as a child after the Spanish expulsion, he emigrated to Egypt in 1514. Shortly thereafter, he was recognized as chief rabbi of Egypt, a post he held for 40 years.

His income came through business, from which he became quite wealthy. Among his students in Cairo were Rav Yitzchak Luiria (the Ari) and Rav Betazelel Azhkenazi, the Shita Mekubetzet.

In 1553, he returned to Eretz Yisrael, settling in Tzefat.

In 1755, a great earthquake struck Lisbon, Portugal, destroying much of the city including the courthouse of the Inquisition.

“A palm branch which has been acquired by theft, or which is dried, is not valid.”

R. Ami said, “A withered one is invalid, because it has no beauty; and a robbed one is invalid, because it is a religious duty done by a sin.”

Sukkah Chapter 3


28 October in History

In 1886, The Statue of Liberty, a gift from the people of France, was dedicated in New York Harbor by President Cleveland. The Jewish poetess Emma Lazarus wrote “The New Colossus” in 1883 for an art auction “In Aid of the Bartholdi Pedestal Fund.” While France had provided the statue itself, American fundraising efforts like these paid for the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal. In 1903, sixteen years after her death, Lazarus’ sonnet was engraved on a plaque and placed in the pedestal as a memorial.

20 Cheshvan in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Yishayah Bardaky (1862). R’ Bardaky was born in Pinsk and taught Torah there, but he decided to settle in Eretz Yisrael after his first wife died. When the ship carrying R’ Bardaky, his son, Shmuel Akiva, and his daughter, neared the port of Akko, it was wrecked, and all the passengers were thrown into the sea. R’ Bardaky, however, was a powerful swimmer, and, with his two children on his back, he swam ashore.

Upon reaching Yerushalayim, R’ Bardaky was appointed head of the Ashkenazic community. He also was appointed vice-consul of the Austrian Empire.





Inner piety includes natural faith.  The light of God that rings in the soul by itself, without the shinning light of Torah and tradition from our ancestors.  The tradition of faith accompanies the exalted light of faith, guards it from errors and helps it keep its way.  “Your words are a candle to my feet; a light to my path” (Psalms 119:105).

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook


27 October in History

In 1937, as the Arab violence against the Jews continued The Palestine Post reported that a Jew and an Arab constable were killed when some 15 Arab terrorists ambushed a six-truck convoy carrying 21 Jewish laborers from the Palestine Potash concession on the Dead Sea back to Jerusalem. A number of policemen were injured in various shooting incidents, reported throughout the country, and in particular in Safed where the Jewish community was almost under siege.

19 Cheshvan in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Avraham Tzvi Hirsch Kamai, the last Rav of Mir (1859-1942). Born in the Lithuanian town of Shkod, his family traced its ancestry back to the brother of the Vilna Gaon, Rav Avraham, author of Maalos Hatorah.

His father was Rav Eliyahu Baruch Kamai, who served as Rav of of the communities of Shkod, Karelitz and Czechnovtza, following which he served as rov of Mir and as head of the town’s yeshiva. His Torah thoughts were published in Bris Melach.

Rav Tzvi Hirsch’s wife, who was a clever and highly-educated woman, opened a pharmacy in order to support the family. Rav Tzvi Hirsch assisted her from time to time when she needed help, and he would also prepare medicines for the customers according to the prescriptions that they brought. With his father’s passing, however, he replaced as Rav and Rosh Yeshiva in Mir.

If one ate in the Sukkah and rain fell, and he went away and took his meal in the house, when it clears again we do not trouble him to interrupt his meal, and to go back to the Sukkah.

If he was sleeping in the Sukkah and it rained, and he went to sleep in the house, he does not need to go back to his Sukkah if it clear again.

Sukkah Chapter 2



How does the compassion of this law inform us about the rest of the laws?


26 October in History

In 1407, mobs attacked the Jews in Cracow, Poland. The so-called Cracow Accusations was one of the first libels in Poland. The Jews tried to defend themselves and were forced to take refuge in the Church of St. Anne which was surrounded and then set afire. Any children left alive were forcibly baptized.

18 Cheshvan in History

Born in 1932, Meir Kahane was a controversial American-Israeli rabbi and activist. In 1968, he founded the Jewish Defense League in New York. With the motto of “Never Again,” the stated goal of the organization was to protect Jews from anti-Semitism in all its forms. In 1971, he moved his family to Israel, founding the Kach political party, and he was elected to the Knesset in 1984 (the Kach party was later outlawed in Israel). In 1990, after concluding a speech in a Manhattan hotel, Kahane was fatally shot by an Egyptian-born terrorist.

While strangely acquitted of the murder, El Sayyid Nosair was later convicted in relation to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.  He later admitted his guild to having assassinated Rabbi  Kahane.

Rav said, “For four things the property of householders becomes destroyed:

1.  When they keep workers, and do not pay them in time;

2.  For denying the wages due to a hired worker;

3.  When people remove a responsibility from themselves and pass it off to someone else;

4.  For arrogance.

Arrogance is the worst of all.

Of the modest it is written [Ps. xxxvii. 11]: “But the modes will inherit the land, and will delight themselves because of the abundance of peace.”

Sukkah Chapter 2



1.  What do these 4 items have to do with each other?

2.  Is the punishment a result of the behavior or a direct punishment?



24 October in History

The Five Academies comprising the Institute of France held their annual meeting today. Among the presenters was M. Holely of the Academy of Fine Arts, composer of the “Wandering Jew” who read “an interminable discourse on Frohberger, a German organist whom no ever heard of, and whom the writer himself acknowledge was snuffed out by Handel.


17 Cheshvan 5771

The rains began to fall on the 17th of Cheshvan of the year 1656 from creation (2105), flooding the earth and rising above the highest mountains. Only Noah and his family survived, in the ark built to that end by Divine command, and a pair of each animal species, who entered with him into the ark.

During the seven days of the Sukkot one must use the Sukkah as the regular living space, and the house only as an occasional.

If it rains, when is he permitted to leave the Sukkah? When the soup becomes spoiled.

The sages explain this by a comparison: It is as if a servant presented a goblet to his master, who throws a bowl of water full in his face.



Why is the Sukkah compared to a goblet?


24 October in History

In 1936, Bronislaw Huberman, founder of the Palestine Symphony Orchestra told the Times he had just conferred with Arturo Toscanini on arrangements for the opening concert of the PSO which will be conducted by Toscanini. The symphony has seventy members most of whom are refugees from various European countries where they were leading performers. The concert is schedule for December and is the first of a series of scheduled performances.


16 Cheshvan in History

Today marks the passing of Rav (Reb) Shlomo Carlebach (1925-1994), the foremost Jewish songwriter in the 2nd half of the 20th century, who used his music to inspire Jews around the world. Over his 69 years, he lived in Manhattan, San Francisco, Toronto and Moshav Or Modiin, Israel. In a recording career that stretched over 30 years, Reb Shlomo sang his songs on more than 25 albums. Shlomo Carlebach was born in Berlin, where his father, Naftali, was an Orthodox leader. The family, which fled the Nazis in 1933, lived in Switzerland before coming to New York in 1939. His father became the rabbi of a small synagogue on West 79th Street, Congregation Kehlilath Jacob; Shlomo Carlebach and his twin brother, Eli Chaim, took over the synagogue after their father’s death in 1967.

He studied at the Yeshiva Torah Vodaath in Brooklyn and at the Bais Medrash Gavoah in Lakewood, N.J. From 1951 to 1954, he worked as a traveling emissary of the Grand Rabbi of Lubavitch, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. His singing career began in Greenwich Village, where he met Bob Dylan and other folk singers, and moved to Berkeley for the 1966 Folk Festival. After his appearance, he decided to remain in the Bay Area to reach out to what he called “lost Jewish souls,” runaways and drug addicted youths.

He said, “A Niggun (song) can take you from where you are, to where you want to be.”


Elisha said to Gehazi, “What can we do for this woman (to repay her for the kindness she has shown us)?”  Gehazi said, “She has no children, and her husband is old.”  Elisha said, “Call the woman.”  She came, and stood by the door.

Elisha said, “This time next year you will be hugging a child.”

She responded, “Do not lie to your maidservant.”

Kings II 4:12-15



1.  Was her response rude, or simply a profound statement of disbelief?

2.  How is her response similar to Avraham’s of “Would it be that Ishmael would live before you?”


14 Cheshvan in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Avraham Elimelech Perlow of Stolin-Karlin (1891-1942). Born to Rav Yisrael “the Yenuka” of Stolin, Reb Avraham Elimelech married in 1912. He succeeded his father as Rebbe in 1922; most of his father’s Chasidim followed him as he settled in Karlin, while his brother, Rav Dovid of Zlatipol led a flock to Stolin. In 1929, Rav Avraham Elimelech founded a yeshiva in Luninetz.

He, his wife, and his two sons were murdered by local Ukranian peasants. His actual day of death is not known. This day has been chosen as his Yom Hazikaronm or day of remembrance. A collection of his chidushei Torah, new ideas on Torah,  have been recorded as “Kuntres Pri Elimelech” and printed in Yalkut Divrei Aharon and in Birchas Aharon.

22 October in History

In 1903, birthdate of Curly Howard. Born Jerome Lester Horwitz, Howard was one of the Three Stooges, along with his brother Moe Howard and Larry Fine.

15 Cheshvan in History

n the 2nd century before the common era, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks) who, with the collaboration of the Jewish Hellenists, introduced pagan idols into the Holy Temple and set about to forcefully Hellenize the people of Israel. Mattityahu, the son of the High Priest Yochanan, was already an old man when he picked up a sword and raised the flag of revolt in the village of Modiin in the Judean hills. Many rallied under his cry, “Who that is for G-d, come with me!” and resisted and battled the Greeks from their mountain hideouts.

After heading the revolt for one year, Mattityahu died on the 15th of Cheshvan of the year 3622 from creation (139 BCE). His five sons — the “Macabees” Judah, Yochanan, Shimon, Elazar and Yonatan — carried on the battle to their eventual victory, celebrated each year since by Jews the world over with the festival of Chanukah.

23 October in History

In 1927, in Israel, a moshav that would be late known as Netanya is founded by Nathan Strauss.

“A minor that not need the nursing of his mother is obligated in Sukkah.”

What is meant by this?

“A minor who can obey the call of nature without the aid of his mother.” So said the disciples of R. Yanai.

But Resh Lakish said, “A child that on awakening does not cry: Mother! mother!”

Sukkah Chapter 2



This is a new section where I will be posting thoughts for comment.  Please use the links at the bottom of the page.

1.  Which child is older?

2.  What does this argument say about our relationships to our mothers?


13 Cheshvan in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Haim Nahum Effendi (1872-1960). Served as Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Egypt (1925-1960).Rabbi Haim Nahum Effendi

He was witness both to a vibrant community of 80,000 Jews living in Egypt and also to the community’s disintegration after 1948 when government hostility, violence, economic restrictions, confiscation and deportation caused most Jews to leave. Born near Izmir in Turkey, he was sent by his parents to learn in a yeshiva in Tiveriya and later went to a French Lycee for his secondary education, obtaining a degree in Muslim law in Constantinople. He also attended the Sorbonne’s School of Oriental Languages, where he perfected his linguistic abilities and also studied history and philosophy.

In 1923, Rabbi Nahum received an invitation from Moise Cattaoui Pacha, head of the Jewish community in Cairo, to become the Chief Rabbi of Egypt and was appointed to serve as a Senator in the nation’s Legislative Assembly.

21 October in History

In 2002, a car packed with explosives pulled up to a bus in northern Israel during rush hour, igniting a massive fireball that killed 14 people along with two suicide attackers.

Thank you to everyone for you wishes and blessings. Thank God I am feeling better.


Natural faith, with natural strength and its songs of courage, need to return and be planted in field that is blessed by God, and is founded on Torah, so that is all becomes faith of Torah.

Then, all of the strength and courage will be refined and exalted, and will stand to be always elevated in purity and refinement.

That strength and courage will then be doubled through the purity and clarity that comes when Godliness walks and rings on the foundation of faith, through free will, the light of the Torah of God always “restores the soul.”

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook


20 October in History

In 1781 BCE, the Holy Roman Emperor, Joseph II of Austria issued the Patent of Toleration which was an edict extending to religious freedom to non-Catholic Christians living in the Habsburg Empire. The Jews would have to wait another year. In 1782 Joseph II issued the Patent of Toleration for the Jews of Lower Austria, thereby establishing the civic equality of his Jewish subjects.

12 Cheshvan in History

Yitzhak Rabin, Commander-in-Chief of the IDF during the Six Day War and later Prime Minister of Israel, was assassinated on this date in 5756 (1995).

The monument marking the site of the assassination

On a personal note, Israeli friends tried to explain to me what this loss was to them: it was a loss of innocence.  Until that time, Israeli citizens could expect to walk up to the PM and have a conversation.  After the assassination, that innocence, and so much more, was lost.

Abayi was sitting in the presence of R. Joseph in the Sukkah, and a wind blew the pieces from the branches into the dish, and R. Joseph said, “Take off the dishes, and we will go out.”

Abayi said to him, “We = learned in the Mishna: Till the porridge is spoiled (and the pieces in the dish are not sufficient to exempt us from sitting in the Sukkah)?

He answered: As I am delicate, the pieces bother me (and therefor I am exempt).

Sukkah Chapter 2


17 October in History

In 539 BCE, King Cyrus, rhe Great, of Persia marches into the city of Babylon. This will lead to the return of the Jews to Jerusalem after 70 years of exile.

9 Cheshvan in History

The life and influence of Rabbi Asher ben Yechiel, known by the acronym “Rosh”, straddled the two great spheres of the Jewish diaspora of his time, the Ashkenazic (Franco-German) and the Sephardic (Spanish-Mediterranean) communities. Born approximately 1250 in Western Germany, Rabbi Asher studied under the famed Tosaphist Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg, fathered eight sons, and authored one of the earliest codifications of Jewish law. In mid-life he fled the persecutions of medieval Christian Europe, settling in Spain where Jews prospered materially and Jewish learning flourished in the Spanish Golden Age.

Though a penniless exile and newcomer, Rabbi Asher’s genius and erudition quickly earned him a position of prestige and influence. In 1304 he was invited to to serve as the spiritual leader of the Jews of Toledo, where he established a Talmudic academy and transplanted the Ashkenazic Tosaphists’ system of Talmudic interpretation and analysis. He also introduced the traditionalism and piety of the early Ashkenazic “Chassidim.”

Rabbi Asher passed away in Toledo on Cheshvan 9 of the year 5088 from creation (1327 of the Common Era).

Why does Jacob say,
And Israel speak,
“My way is hidden from God;”
“My judgement will pass by my God.”

Do you now know?
Have you not heard?
The God of the universe, creator of heavens and earth,
Does not tire or wary.
There is no limit to His understanding.

He gives strength to the weary;
To him without drive He gives strength.

Youths will wary and grow tired.
The young will stumble and fall.

Those who trust in God will be changed into new strength.
They will spread wings like an eagle,
They will run and not tire,
The will walk and not wary.

Isaiah 40:27-31


15 October in History

In 1894, Col. Alfred Dreyfus was first arrested. This marked the start of what would become known as the Dreyfus Affair.

7 Cheshvan in History

During the Second Temple Era (circa 230 BCE), Cheshvan 7 was the date on which the Jew most distant from the Holy Temple — who resided on the banks of the Euphrates River, a 15-day journey’s distance from Jerusalem — arrived at his homestead upon returning from the Sukkot pilgrimage. All Jews would wait for this before beginning to pray for rain. Cheshvan 7 thus marked the return to everyday activities following the spirituality of the festival-rich month of Tishrei.

16 October in History

In 1649, the American colony of Maine passed legislation granting religious freedom to all its citizens, on condition that those of contrary religious persuasions behave acceptably. This early evidence of religious tolerance demonstrates while Jews would flourish in the land that would become the United States.

8 Cheshvan in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Menachem Nachum Kaplan (Nachumke) of Horodna, Lithuania (1811-1879). When he was nine years old, he lived in the home of Reb Yehuda Leib Ganker and learned with this wealthy man every morning.

Later, he wandered through Lithuania until he came to Amshina, where he studied under Rav Avraham Kahane. Eventually, he was accepted to the Mirrer yeshiva and became close to its mashgiach, Rav Yisrael Heller. He married the daughter of wealthy man, but after a number of years, his father-in-law died.

Poverty- stricken, Reb Nachumke took a job as a shamash in the Chevras Shas Beis Midrash in Korodna. However, his fame spread, and many throughout eastern Europe came to observe him and learn from him. Among those was the Chafetz Chaim, then only 15 years old.

It happened with R. Eliezer that he resided in Upper Galilea, and he was asked thirty Halakhoth about the law of Sukkah. To twelve he answered: So I have heard; and to eighteen he answered: I did not hear them.

R. Jose b. R. Jehudah says: On the contrary, to eighteen he answered: I have heard; and to twelve: I have not heard.

And they asked him: Are all your decisions only from what you have heard? He answered: You compelled me to tell you one thing which I had not heard from my Masters.

That is, never in my life came a man to the house of learning before me, I never slept in the house of learning for a long or a short time; I never left a man in the house of learning when I went away, I never talk about worldly affairs, and I never decided a thing which I had not heard from my Masters.

Sukkah Chapter 2


14 October in History

Germany withdrew from the League of Nations. This was the first of Hitler’s moves to overturn the Treaty of Versailles, which was in turn part of his plan to create his Jew free Third Reich.

In all intellectual pursuits, in all religious philosophies, we see only an expansion of the inner point of faith. Clear, natural awe of heaven, in order to expand its natural boundaries, to open the power that is stored in it, requires many branches of study: actions and introspection, intellect and emotions.

Therefore, this is what the success of these pursuits depend on: that they be well connected to the living, natural point of faith in the soul of a person, which lightens the courageous souls of Israel in particular; this is the holy point of faith in God, the true foundation for awe of heaven. It is to this inner point of faith, in this inner drive, with alive and clear feeling, majestic and focused by all the strongest laws of life, that all the soul, with all its feelings, powers, ways, inclinations, be tied and clung with it.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook

13 October in History

In 1796, censorship of Jewish books in Russia became official policy today

In 1843, B’nai Brith was founded under the leadership of Henry Jones at Sinsheimer’s cafe on Essex Street in New York. Its original mission was the maintenance of orphanages and homes for the elderly and widows. It extended its work to many spheres of American Jewish life, including combating anti-Semitism. (A.D.L.) and working with students on campus (Hillel).

5 Cheshvan in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Moshe Birdogo, son of Rav Avraham. Rav Moshe resided in western Morocco and was known as the Rosh Mashbir (1730)

Fourteen meals must be eaten in the Sukkaah, one in the morning and one at night (of each day of the festival), according to R. Eleazar.

The sages say it is not fixed by law, except that one must eat in the Sukkah on the first night.

R. Eleazar said again: He who has not eaten on the first night can make amends for it by eating in the booth on the last night of the festival; but according to the sages no amends can be made, and they apply it to the verse [Eccl. i. 15]: “What is crooked cannot be made straight, and that which is defective cannot be numbered.”

Sukkah Chapter 2


12 October in History

In 1957, publication of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged which, in 2007, will be described as one of the most influential business books ever written.

3 Cheshvan in History

Rav Kalonimus Kalman Shapira, Piasetsna Rebbe, author of Chovas Hatalmidim and Aish Kodesh (1889-1944). His father, Rav Elimelech of Grodzisk, was a direct descendant of the Magid of Kozhnitz and of the “Noam Elimelech” of Lizhensk.

He was named Kalonimus Kalman after his maternal grandfather, the Maor Vashemesh. In 1905, Rav Kalonimus Kalman married Rachel Chaya Miriam, the daughter of Rav Yerachmiel Moshe of Kozhnitz. She helped him prepare his lectures and seforim, even adding pertinent insights of her own.

After the Warsaw Ghetto uprising was crushed in Nissan 1943, Rav Klonimus Kalmish was taken to the Trevaniki work camp near Lublin. Prisoners who were completely “worked out” by exhaustion and starvation were removed and sent to the Treblinka and Rav Klonimus Kalmish met his death there on 4 Cheshvan, 1944.

His writings were preserved in a milk jug with a letter to asking the person who finds the writing to send them to his brother. His writings are now widely published and studied. Copies of his original text reside in Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial.

In the case of a sick person, he and his nurses are exempt from the dwelling in the Sukkah, but one who is pained (due to insects, or a rancid smell) may only himself stay out, not his helpers.

Sukkah Chapter 2


11 October in History

In 1285, following a false charge that the Jews had purchased a Christian child from an old woman and then killed, a mob in Munich attacked the Jews community. Those who escaped the mob took refuge in the synagogue which the mob then burned killing 180 Jews.

In 1727, George II and Caroline of Ansbach are crowned King and Queen of Great Britain. King George II was the monarch who gave “the royal assent” to the Jewish Naturalization Act of 1753.

Unfortunately, the act was repealed a year later.

3 Cheshvan in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Yisrael of Ruzhin (1797-1850). Born to Reb Shalom, the Rebbe of Prohibisht (who was a son of Reb Avraham HaMalach, the son of the Maggid of Mezerich). He was engaged to the Rav of Berditchev at the age of seven; six years later, then married. When Reb Yisrael turned sixteen his older brother, Reb Avraham (who had succeeded their father), was passed away, leaving no children. He was then succeeded by Reb Yisrael.

The Russian Czar intended to build a big church in the Old City of Jerusalem.  Hearing this, Reb Yisrael summoned Reb Nisan Bak who lived in Jerusalem. Reb Nisan arrived there a few days ahead of the Russians and succeeded in buying the plot of land and built a synagogue there. The Czar was forced to buy a different plot of land, known today as the Russian Compound. The synagogue was known as the “Reb Nisan Bak Shul” and stood until 1948 when it was destroyed by the Arabs.

10 October in History

In 1910, today was the birthdate of photographer Julius Shulman. Born in Brooklyn, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants, his family moved to a farm in Connecticut, where Shulman first developed a love of nature that, he said, awakened him to light and shadow and influenced his life’s course. When Julius was 10, his father moved the family to the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, which at that time was predominantly Jewish, and opened the New York Dry Goods Store. His father died of tuberculosis in 1923, leaving Julius’ mother to run the business and raise five children.

2 Cheshvan in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Elazar Simcha Wasserman (1992). The oldest son to his illustrious father, Rav Elchanan Wasserman, and a nephew of Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzensky, Rav Simcha learned at Novardok for several years, beginning shortly after his Bar Mitzvah, under the Alter of Novardok. He was also very close to the Chafetz Chaim. After his last visit with him, his father sent him to Strasbourg, France, where he started a yeshiva (at the time, the only yeshiva in France). He stayed until 1938, when he moved to America.

He first taught at Torah Vodaas, where he became close to Rav Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz. He worked closely with Rav Aharon Kotler in the Vaad Hatzalah during WWII.

In 1944, Rav Simcha established the Bais Yehuda Day School in Detroit, the first in Michigan, and appointed Rav Avraham Abba Freedman as a Rebbe. Their first Shavuot, they were the only two to learn all night in the Beis Midrash.

When Rav Simcha left in 1953, he left Rav Avraham Abba, who stayed another 50 years. He then founded the West Coast Talmudic Seminary (WCTS), or Ohr Elchanan (named after his father) in Los Angeles. He asked Chabad to take over the building and school in 1977.

In 1979, he and his wife (daughter of the Novardok rav, Rav Meir Abowitz) fulfilled a lifelong dream by moving to the land of Israel. Together with Rav Moshe Chadash, he established Yeshiva Ohr Elchanan in Jerusalem. Rav Simcha and his wife never had children. Yet, Rav Simcha was considered by many to be a leading authority on the subject of child-rearing.

Just as I have promised to never again pass the waters of Noach
Over the land again,
So I promise,
To be angry with you;
To rebuke you.

Isaiah 94:9


Today in this year, a program entitled Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín “We Will Sing to the Nazis What We Cannot Say to Them” is scheduled to be performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. “Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín tells the story of courageous Jewish prisoners in the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp during World War II who learned Verdi’s Requiem Mass by rote and then performed this compelling work 16 times as a statement of defiance and resistance, answering the worst of mankind with the best of mankind.”

30 Tishrei in History

Rav Tzvi Hirsh Chayos, the Maharatz Chayos, Rav of Zolkov (1805-1855). Born in Brody to Rav Meir Chiyus. He was a descendent of Rav Yitzchak Chiyus, the Zera Yitzchak. The family could trace their lineage back to Dovid Hamelech. He received smicha at the age of 21 from Rav Ephraim Zalman Margulies, Rav of Brody. Two years later, he was appointed Rav of ZolokovaIn 1854, he became Rav of Kalisch. His was the author of Sheilos U’teshuvos Maharatz, Atreres Tzvi, and Divrei Horaa. His thoughts on Shas are prinyted in the back of Geamaras used today. Rav Tzvi Hirsch’s son. Rav Yitzchak, was mechaber of the sefer Siach Yitzchak on masechet Makkot.

9 October in History

In 1941, a rally was held in Tel Aviv as part of a campaign to get another 5,000 Jews from Palestine to enlist in the British Army. Currently there are approximately 10,000 Jews from Palestine serving in the British Army and RAF throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East. The leading Jewish institutions sponsoring the campaign have adopted the slogan “Jews are fighting with the Allies for victory.”

1 Cheshvan in History

The month of Cheshvan is also called “Mar-Cheshvan.” Mar means “bitter” — an allusion to the fact that the month contains no festive days. Mar also means “water”, alluding to the month’s special connection with rains (the 7th of Cheshvan is the day on which Jews begin praying for rain (in the land of Israel), and the Great Flood, which we read about in this week’s Torah reading, began on Cheshvan 17th.

Sick persons and their helpers are exempt from the Sukkah.

The rabbis taught: Not only those who are dangerously sick, but if there is no danger, if one has sore eyes or a headache, he is also exempt.

R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said, “It once happened I had sore eyes when I was in Cæsarea (Kisrin), and R. Jose the Great allowed me and my servants to sleep outside of the Sukkah.”

Sukkah Chapter 2


7 October in History

In 1879, birthdate of Leon Trotsky. Born Lev Davidovich Bronstein to wealthy Jewish farmers in the Ukraine, Bronstein became a revolutionary committed to the overthrown of the Czar. After spending time in Siberia, he joined forces with Lenin. After the Bolshevik Revolution created the Red Army which defeated both the foreign armies that invaded the Soviet Union and the White Forces during the bloody civil war that followed. Trotsky would lose out to Stalin in the power struggle that followed Lenin’s death. Trotsky would be hacked to death by one of Stalin’s agents in 1940 while living in Mexico. Anti-Semites would use Trotsky’s Jewish origins as one source of proof that Communism was part of a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world.

29 Tishrei in History

Today is the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Don Isaac Abravanel (1437-1508), one of the leaders of Spanish Jewry at the time of the 1492 expulsion. A minister in the king’s court (after having served as treasurer to the king of Portugal), he chose to join his brethren in their exile. He began writing his extensive and highly regarded commentary on the Torah in 1503 in Venice (where it was published in 1579).

Faith in God is the ground from which all good in life grows, just as the nature of ground is to make the possessor of it wealthy, so does faith act as the bottom wrung from which all good grows.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook


6 October in History

In 1943, Helen Manaster, a Jew posing as a Catholic, is called out of the delivery room in the Kraków, Poland, hospital while in the throes labor pains to face two Gestapo agents. She keeps her calm and the Gestapo agents tell her to go back to bed.

28 Tishrei in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Shmuel Landau of Prague, second son of the Noda BeYehuda in 1837.

Should one eat in the Sukkah, or celebrate a wedding in the house where the wedding took place?

R. Zera said, “When I was a bridegroom, I ate in the Sukkah, and enjoyed myself in the bride’s house (where the wedding and festive meals were held), and I enjoyed myself the more because I fulfilled two religious duties.”

Sukkah Chapter 2


4 October in History

In 1917, at a meeting of the British Cabinet, Edwin Montagu, the one Jew in the Lloyd George government, continued to express his opposition to what would become the Balfour Declaration. Under pressure from Montagu and his supporters Prime Minister Lloyd George and Lord Balfour watered down the original draft, modifying, among other things the strong statement “that Palestine should be reconstituted as the National Home of the Jewish People.”

26 Tishrei in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Yehuda Yudel Rosenberg (1859-1935). Born in Skaraschev, a small town near Radomsko, Poland. He served as Rav in Tarlow, and age 25, he was appointed Head of Rabbinical Court.

In 1903, he published Yadot Nedarim, a commentary on Rashi and Ran to meseches Nedarim. In 1905, he published Shaarei Zohar Torah, an attempt to organize for the verses of the Torah what the Zohar said on that verse.

“One who is involved in performing a commandment (Mitzvah) is exempt from fulfilling another commandment.”

What is the Biblical source for this concept?

“There were people who were impure and unable to bring the Passover offering” (Num 9).

Who were these people?

R. Yossi from Galil maintains they were the carriers of Josepf’s casket (Joseph’s body was taken from Egypt and buried in Israel).

R. Akiva maintains they were Mishael and Elsaphan who buried Nadav and Avihu.

R. Yitschak maintains, they were people who buried a deceased person who had no one else to bury him.

Sukkah Chapter 2


3 October in History

Today in 1335, Levi ben Gershon, who is better known by his Latinized name as Gersonides or the abbreviation of first letters as RaLBaG, observed an eclipse of the moon today. He described a geometrical model for the motion of the Moon and made other astronomical observations of the Moon, Sun and planets using a camera obscura. Some of his beliefs were well wide of the truth, such as his belief that the Milky Way was on the sphere of the fixed stars and shines by the reflected light of the Sun. Gersonides was also the earliest known mathematician to have used the technique of mathematical induction in a systematic and self-conscious fashion and anticipated Galileo’s error theory.

The lunar crater Rabbi Levi is named after him.

25 Tishrei in History

Today marks the passing of the great Chassidic leader and advocate for the Jewish people, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev (1740-1810). Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was a close disciple of the second leader of the Chassidic movement, Rabbi DovBer, the Maggid of Mezritch. He is best known for his love for every Jew and his impassioned words of advocation on their behalf before the Almighty.

Today is also marks the passing of Rabbi Moshe Sofer of Pressburg (1762-1839), known as “Chatam Sofer” after his work of Rabbinic respona.Rabbi Moshe was an outstanding Halachic authority and community leader, and was at the forefront of the battle to preserve the integrity of traditional Judaism.

So says God,
The Lord, creator of heavens, and stretched them out,
Creator of the earth and what it brings forth,
Who gives soul to the nation on it,
And spirit to those that walk on it:

I am God.
I have called you to righteousness.
I have taken hold of your hand.
I have formed you.
I have placed you as a covenantal people:
A light to the nations.

Isaiah 42:4-5


29 September in History

In 1907, Bar Giora, a Palestinian Jewish self-defense organization was formed to protect the Jewish settlements from raiders. Two years later it was reorganized into HaShomer (the Watchman) by Israel Shochat. HaShomer was eventually transformed into the Haganah. Despite opposition from local Jews and the “Baron’s” overseers (i.e. Baron Rothschild), they persevered with the idea of Jews taking responsibility for their own defense.

21 Tishrei in History

Today is known as Hoshana Rabba. In addition to the Four Kinds taken every day of Sukkot, it is a “Rabbinical Mitzvah”, dating back to the times of the Prophets, to take an additional aravah, or willow, on the 7th day of Sukkot. In the Holy Temple, large, 18-foot willow branches were set around the altar. Today, we take the Four Kinds and carry them together with the Four Kinds around the reading table in the synagogue during the “Hashaanot” prayers, of which we recite a more lengthy version today, making seven circuits around the table (instead of the daily one). At the conclusion of the Hoshaanot we strike the ground five times with a bundle of five willows, symbolizing the “tempering of the five measures of harshness.”

30 September in History

In 1337, in Bavaria, a German knight named Hartmann von Deggenburg led his horseman through the gates of Deckendorf, where they joined the local citizenry, in slaughtering the local Jewish population and seizing their property. The Jews had been accused of desecrating the host or communion wafer and the slaughter was the punishment for the foul deed. In reality the councilors of the city of Deckendorff desired to free themselves and all the citizens from the debts owed to the Jews. The anti-Semitic violence spread to fifty-one communities, including Bohemia and Austria.

22 Tishrei in History

In today’s musaf prayer we begin to insert the phrase mashiv haruach umorid hageshem (“who makes the wind blow and brings down the rain”) in our daily prayers (as we’ll continue to do through the winter, until the 1st day of Passover). Special hymns on rain and water are added to musaf in honor of the occasion.

1 October in History

In 331 BCE Alexander the Great of Macedonia defeated the Persian army at Gaugamela. This victory cemented Greek domination over the Persian Empire. Alexander would be crowned “King of Asia” after the battle. Alexander’s armies were instrumental in bringing Greek culture to the lands of Asia Minor including the homeland of the Jewish people. This would mark the beginning of the uneasy and sometimes violent interaction between the world of Moses and Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, et al.

23 Tishrei in History

Today is Simchat Torah (“Rejoicing of the Torah”), on which we conclude, and begin anew, the annual Torah reading cycle. The event is marked with great rejoicing, and the “hakafot” procession, held both on the eve and morning of Simchat Torah, in which we march and dance with Torah scrolls around the reading table in the synagogue.

During today’s Torah reading, everyone, including children under the age of Bar Mitzvah, is called up to the Torah; thus the reading is read numerous times, and each aliyah is given collectively to many individuals, so that everyone should recite the blessing over the Torah on this day.

2 October in History

It was on this day in 1656, Yom Kippur services were held for the first time in Amsterdam. Neighbors thinking they were secret Catholics reported them to the authorities and the leaders were arrested. Once it was explained that they were secret Jews rather then Papists, they were let alone and the leaders released. The oldest synagogue in Amsterdam (possibly all of Western Europe) is “The Great Synagogue” built in 1671. According to historians, it was built so that Jews would not have to worship in clandestine places.

24 Tishrei in History

The Shabbat after Simchat Torah is Shabbat Bereishit — “Shabbat of Beginning” — the first Shabbat of the annual Torah reading cycle, on which the Torah section ofBereishit (“In the Beginning”) is read.

If one builds a Sukkah on the top of a wagon, or on a boat, it is valid, and may be used on the festival.

This Mishnah is in accordance with the opinion of R. Akiva only, as is recorded in a Baraitah:

If a Sukkah was made on a ship, Rabban Gamaliel says it is invalid, and R. Akiva says it valid. It happened once that Rabban Gamaliel and R. Akiva were on a ship, and R. Akiva constructed a Sukkah on the ship.

The next day, a wind blew it off. Rabban Gamaliel said to him: Akiva, where is your Sukkah?

Sukkah Chapter 2


28 September in History

In 1850, the United States Navy abolished flogging as a form of punishment. One of America’s early Jewish naval officers played a key role in this change. Uriah Phillips Levy had abolished flogging aboard his ship back in the 1830’s, an action that led to his court martial. However, the decision was overturned by President Tyler and he was reinstated.

Levy commanded the Mediterranean Squadron of the U.S. Navy and reached the rank of Commodore (in the old Navy, this was rank just below Admiral). Levy passed away in 1862.

Parenthetically, Levy was an in awe of President Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, and Monticello, Jefferson’s estate was inherited by his eldest daughter Martha Jefferson Randolph. Financial difficulties led to Martha selling Monticello to James T. Barclay, a local apothecary, in 1831. Barclay sold it in 1834 to Levy. During the American Civil War, the house was seized by the Confederate government and sold, though Uriah Levy’sestate recovered it after the war.

The Levy family maintained Monticello until it was turned over the Jefferson Memorial Associate in the 1920’s.

20 Tishrei in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Eliezer Papo, author of Peleh Yoetz and Damesek Eliezer (1785-1828). Born in Sarajevo, he led the community of Selestria, Bulgaria, and died early at the age of 41.

He is considered the exemplary spokesman of the Sephardic musar tradition of the eighteenth century.

He promised in his will that, “Whoever comes to my grave in purity after immersing in a mikveh, and prays with a broken heart, I guarantee him that his prayer will be accepted.” As such, his kever in Silestra, Bulgaria, is the destination of hundreds of visitors annually.

Rabban Gamaliel said to the sages, “Do you see my servant Tabbi? He is a scholar (Talmud Hakham), and knows that servants are exempt from the duty of Sukkah: therefore he sleeps under a bed.” From this we learn that he who sleeps under a bed has not fulfilled his duty.

R. Simeon said, “From R. Gamaliel’s remarks we have learned two things, that servants are free from the duty of a Sukkah, and that one who sleeps under a bed has not fulfilled the duty of Sukkah.”

Why did R. Simeon say, “from R. Gamaliel’s decree.” [R. Simeon should have said from R. Gamaliel’s comment?] R. Simeon comes to teach us by the way that R. A’ha bar Adda, according to others the same in the name of R. Hamnuna, quoting Rabh, who said, “From where do we know that even a remark of a scholar must be studied? Since it is written [Ps. i.] “And the leaf does not wither,” even the extemporaneous comments (the non-fruits) need to be studied.”

Sukkah Chapter 2


27 September in History

In 1540, the Society of Jesus known as The Jesuits was founded by Ignatius Loyola The first Jesuits were Spanish Christians who began their work at a time when the reconquest of Spain from the Moslems was but recently accomplished, and persons with Moorish or Jewish ancestry were under suspicion. It is accordingly much to their credit that the Jesuits were firmly opposed (particularly under Ignatius and his first three successors as Superior General of the Jesuits) to ecclesiastical anti-Semitism and to the Inquisition’s persecution of suspected Jews. When Ignatius was accused of having partly Jewish ancestry, he replied, “If only I did! What could be more glorious than to be of the same blood as the Apostles, the Blessed Virgin, and our Lord Himself?”

19 Tishrei in History

Rav Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman, the Vilna Gaon (1720-1797). At the age of seven he gave his first public discourse and displayed a fully developed intellect. By the time he was ten he had advanced to the point where he no longer needed a teacher. At the age of 35 he was approached by one of the leading sages of that time, Rabbi Yonason Eybschutz, to act as an intermediary in the conflict between him and another great sage, Rabbi Yakov Emden.

The Gaon’s son testified that for fifty years his father did not sleep for more than two hours in a twenty-four hour period. His breadth of knowledge was amazing. He was capable of stating from memory the number of times any sage was mentioned in any particular book of the Talmud. His knowledge of both the revealed and the hidden parts of the Torah was beyond compare. The Gaon considered secular knowledge to be a vital adjunct to Torah study. He was knowledgeable in almost all secular fields and authored books on grammar and mathematics.

Among his many writings is Aderes Eliyahu, a commentary on Chumash.

We learned in a Boraitha: R. Hananiah said: When I came into the exile, I found an old man who said to me that to cover a Succah with a mat is lawful; afterwards, when I came to R. Joshuah my father’s brother, he admitted this theory.
Said R. Hisda: This is only when it is not seamed. Said Ullah: The mats from the city of Mehuzah, but for their seams, would be lawful to be used for covering.

So also we have learned in a Boraitha: Mats may be used for covering, provided they have no seams.

Sukkah Chapter 1


26 September 2010

In 1762, today is the birthdate of Moses Schreiber, known to his own community and Jewish posterity as Moshe Sofer, also known by his main work Chasam Sofer, (trans. Seal of the Scribe and acronym for Chidushei Toras Moshe Sofer), (1762 – 1839), was one of the leading Orthodox rabbis of European Jewry in the first half of the nineteenth century. He was a teacher to thousands and a powerful opponent to the Reform movement, which was then making inroads into many Jewish communities in Austria-Hungary and beyond. As Rav of the city of Bratislava, he maintained a strong Orthodox Jewish perspective through communal life, first-class education, and uncompromising opposition to Reform and radical change.

18 Tishrei in History

Today marks the passing of Rabbi Nachman of Breslav, born to Feige, grand-daughter of the Ba’al Shem Tov, and Simcha, son of Nachman of Horodenka, the Ba’al Shem Tov’s close friend, in Mezhbizh. (1772-1810). He contracted tuberculosis at some point between 1806 and 1810, a period during which he lost his son, daughter, and wife. He moved from Breslav to Uman on May 9, 1810, and died there October 16.

It will be on that day, that God will be King over all of the land.

God will be one.

His name will be one.

Zechariah, 14:9

22 September in History

Today in 1521, Selim I, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire passed away. Selim did away with the Law of No Return, the Roman ban on Jews living in Eretz Israel. The ban was in force until the 16th century. Limits on Jewish immigration would reappear with the British White Paper. Like many other members of Ottoman royalty, Selim employed a Jewish physician.

14 Tishrei in History

This is the day prior to Sukkot or the Festival of Booths, which commemorate the protection the Jews had while traveling through the desert from Egypt to Israel. The protection either came in the form of booths they had built, or from the Divine clouds by day and pillar of fire by night that accompanied the Jewish people.

Some have a custom to prepare the “four species” durning the afternoon of this day. These species are taken in as part of the service of the holiday, and represent, the heart (Etrog or Citron) spine (Lulav or Palm) Lips (Aravot or Willows) and eyes (Hadasim or Myrtle).

23 September in History

Today in 1776 was Yom Kippur – American Jews fast for the first time as citizens of the newly independent United States

15 Tishrei in History

Today is the first day of Sukkot or the Festival of Booths. One this day, there is a biblical command to take the four species for Jews in all places. The command to take the four species every day of the holiday biblically applies only in the Temple. Yet, after the destruction of the Temple, the Rabbis ordained that the four species should be taken in all places, so “speedily when the Temple is rebuilt” we will know how to observe the law for the Temple, properly.

24 September in History

In 1936, more than 120,000 Jews from all parts of Palestine paid a last tribute to Meier Dizengoff, Mayor of Tel-Aviv, as his funeral procession passed through the principal streets of the city this morning from the Tel-Aviv Museum where his body had lying in state, to the cemetery. Pall bearers included Tel Aviv’s vice mayors I. Rokach and Dov Hos. In honor of Dizengoff’s wishes there were no eulogies and children, whom he considered “flower of Palestinian Jewry,” escorted his remains to the grave. He was buried between the grave of his late wife and those of Max Nordau and Achad Haam.

16 Tishrei in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Moshe Zacusa (the Ramaz) (1625-1697). One of the foremost kabbalists of his generation, he was the author of Kol Haramaz, a commentary on the Zohar, as well as Shorshei HaShemos, on he names of God. He taught Rav Moshe Chaim Luzzato (the Ramchal) when the latter was still quite young.

25 September in History

In 1921, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism is founded in New York. The school and the Pulitzer Prizes which it awards were possible because of an endowment by publish Joseph Pulitzer.

17 Tishrei in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Moshe Rosen, author of Nezer Hakodesh (1957).

Anything which can become impure, or does not grow from the ground, can not be used as the covering (Sechah) for the Sukkah.

Where is this learnered from?

Reish Lakish said, (Gen. 2:6), “But there went up a mist from the earth.” Just as a mist is not subject to impurity, and ascends from the earth, so also must the Succah be a thing not subject to impurity, and grow from the earth.

Yomah Chapter 1


20 September in History

In 1884, the Society of United Hebrew Charities met at Wheatly Hall in Philadelph to discuss the additional stress being place on its limited resources due to the huge influx of Russian immigrants.

13 Tishrei in History

Today marks the passing of Rabbi Akiva Eiger (1761-1837), outstanding Talmudist and Halachic authority.

There is a merit in tying the Lulab. However, is it valid if it is untied?

The Rabbis maintain, there is merit when it it is tied because it is nicer when tied.

Being nicer is a value, based on the verse (Ex. 25.:2) “This is my God, and I will beautify Him” means, “beautify your religious performances for the God’s sake.”

Sukkah Chapter 1


Today in 357 B.C.E., birthdate of Alexander the Great. Alexander’s eastern conquests would bring the Jews in contact with Greek Culture. The conflict between Greek and Jewish values would become a dominant motif in Jewish history over the next several centuries.

12 Tishrei marks the passing of Rabbi Abraham (1740-1776) the son of Rabbi DovBer of Mezeritch and study partner of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi; known as “Rabbi Abraham the Angel” for his saintliness and ascetism.

A Sukkah which is higher than 20 ammot high is not valid.
Why is this?
Rabha explained, it is written [Lev. 23:43]: “In order that your generations may know that I caused the children of Israel to live in booths.” Up to twenty ammot a man knows that he is living in a booth, but higher than twenty ells he does not know, because his eyes do not frequently perceive the roof.

Sukkot Chapter 1


19 September in History

Israel launched its first satellite for secret military reconnaissance on this day 1988.

11 Tishrei in History

Today marks the passing of Mar bar Rav Ashi 466 CE.

It is also the day after Yom Kippur, when one should start to build their Sukkah in advance of the upcoming holiday which will be celebrated on Wednesday night of this week.

Then God said,
“You cared about the plant, which you did not work for and which you did not grow, which appeared overnight and perished overnight. And I should not care about Nineveh, the great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people how do not know the difference between their right hand and left hand, and many animals?”

Yonah 4:10-11


It was on 17 September 1918 tthat Chaim Herzog sixth President of Israel was born. Herzog was born in 1918 in Belfast, where his father, Dr Isaac Herzog, was rabbi. While Chaim was still a child, Isaac was appointed Chief Rabbi of Ireland and the family moved to Dublin. Chaim is remembered there as a former bantam-weight boxing champion. After college, he moved to Palestine in 1935. He joined the Palmach and defended Jewish settlements during the Arab Uprising that lasted from 1936 until 1938. Herzog returned to England where he studied to become a lawyer. He fought with the British forces in Europe during World War II where his forte was intelligence. After the war, he returned to Palestine where he took an active role in the fighting to create the new state of Israel.

After the war, the new state made use of Herzog’s knowledge of Intelligence work. He enjoyed a successful career filling several military, civilian and private sector positions. He passed away in 1997.

Chaim Herzog in his own words: “I do not bring forgiveness with me, nor forgetfulness. The only ones who can forgive are dead; the living have no right to forget.”

On 9 Tishrei,the day before Yom Kippur is a Yom Tov, a festive day; for although we stand prepared to be judged in the supernal courtroom for our deeds of the passed year, we are confident that God is a merciful judge, and will decree a year of life, health and prosperity for us.

Two festive meals are eaten — one at midday and the other before the fast, which begins at sunset. The Talmud states that “Whoever eats and drinks on the 9th [of Tishrei], it is regarded as if he had fasted on both the 9th and the 10th.”

In 18 September, 1851, 1851: The New-York Daily Times, which will become The New York Times, begins publishing.

10 Tishrei is the fast of Yom Kippur. In addition to being the day when God granted forgiveness for the sin of the Golden Calf, it is also the day when Rebecca, wife of Isaac, mother of Jacob and Esau, and one of the four matriarchs of Israel, was born. She lived from 1677 – 1556 BCE.

Faith in God is the most exalted thought. It is so primal, it can be found at all levels, even the lowest and most crass. Yet, at every level, faith in God sheds light, according to the level.

Those who wish to become wise, who try to step up to the “small of faith” level, from the most crass and dark, lift and jump themselves up. Yet, this level of faith does not yet make sense to them. The “small of faith” level is not yet ready for them, yet they are not able to stay at the lower level. They are wound in a sling shot of contradictory ideas, until their help comes, from its holy place.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook


On September 16, 1910, the Jews of Salonica compel editors of a Turkish paper that published anti-Semitic remarks to send a public retraction to every Turkish journal.

In 1977, Moshe Dayan returned to Morocco where he met with the Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister, Hassan Tuhami. Tuhami made it clear that Sadat was prepared to negotiate directly with Israel, that he did not insist on a conference with other Arab States and that he would accept an Israeli withdrawal from Sinai in return for a peace treaty. Sadat would not require settlement of any other issues as condition to signing the peace treaty. This meeting set the stage for the Camp David negotiations that would take place in the following year.

On 8 Tishrei, the 14-day dedication festivities, celebrating the completion of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem built by King Solomon, commenced on the 8th of Tishrei of the year 2935 from creation (826 BCE). The First Temple served as the epicenter of Jewish national and spiritual life for 410 year, until its destruction by the Babylonians in 423 BCE.

My God, before I was created I had not been worthy to be created; and now when created, I am the same as before.

I am earth during my life, and so much the more when I will be dead.

I am entirely before You as a vessel full of disgrace and shame.

May it be Your will that I may not sin more; and my sins until now may You in Your great mercy wipe off, but not by means of suffering.

Yoma Chapter 8


In 1254, birthdate of Marco Polo. Marco Polo told of meeting Chinese Jews in his 1286 journey to China.

Birthday and Yahrtzeit of Zevulun son of Yaakov Avinu in 1450 BCE. It is also the birthday of Dina daughter of Yaakov.

The obligation to confess is on the eve of the Day of Atonement, when it grows dark. Still, the rabbis said, one should confess previously to the meal; for if something happen to him durning the meal, he will have died without a confession.

But although one has confessed before the meal, he should confess again in the evening, and once more the next morning, and in the additional prayer, afternoon prayer, and the concluding prayer.

Yoma Chapter 8


14 September, 1930: German voters elect 107 Nazis to the Reichstag, elevating Hitler’s organization to major party status.

6 Tishrei is the yahrtzeit of Rebbetzin Chana Schneerson (1879-1964), mother of the Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, also known as the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

When R. Zara was on bad terms with any person, he would walk by him repeatedly, that the other might change his heart, and appease him.

Yoma Chapter 8


Today (13 September) Michelangelo begins work on his statue of David in 1503.

It was on 5 Tishrei that Naftali, son of Jacob and Bilhah, was born and passed away.

5 Tishrei also marks the day when the great Talmudic sage, Rabbi Akiva, was taken captive by the Romans in the year 3894 from creation (134 CE).

R. Jose b. Hanina said, “When one tries to appease another, he does not need to try more than three times, as it is written [Gen. l. 17]: I pray You, forgive, I pray You, the trespass of your brothers, and their sin, for evil have they done unto you, and now we pray of you, forgive

If the offended person is dead, he should bring ten people to his grave and say: I have sinned against God and him who lies here.

Yoma Chapter 8


Today (4 Tishrei) the fast of Gedalia is observed. Gedaliah was appointed as governor over the Jews by Nebuchadnetzer after the destruction of the Temple 422 BCE or 419 BCE. He was assassinated on the second day of Rosh Hashana, and as such the fast is most often observed the day after Rosh Hashana, on the 3rd of Tishrei. This year, the Sabbath immediately followed Rosh Hashana, which pushes off the fast an additional day.

Today (12 September) was the birthdate of Alfred A. Knopf in 1892, founder of Alfred Knopf, Inc., the famous American publishing house. “He went to college to become a lawyer, but he fell in love with literature and decided to devote his life to it. At the time, the publishing world was a kind of gentlemen’s club and Knopf had a hard time fitting in because he was Jewish. He was the first Jewish employee at Doubleday. One of his first projects was to republish all of Joseph Conrad’s books in a set, which he did with the help of H.L. Mencken.

At the time that Knopf got into the publishing business, before television and widespread radio, people said that Americans didn’t read books—they just read the newspapers. Knopf thought that Americans might be more likely to read good books if books were beautiful to look at. He used beautiful, easy to read type and high quality paper, and he was the first publisher to cover his books with brightly colored jackets.

When Knopf founded his own publishing company, he didn’t have enough money to publish big-name American authors, so he published European authors instead. Most American publishers didn’t care about European literature, so Knopf was able to cheaply publish writers like Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka, and Albert Camus. When several of his authors won the Nobel Prize for Literature, Alfred A. Knopf Inc. became known as one of the best literary publishing houses.” It was his Jewish wife Blanche Wolf Knopf who encouraged him to follow his dream and start his own publishing house. She was more than just a cheerleader. She was President of Alfred A. Knopf, while her husband served as chairman of the board. She understood the publishing and was a driving force behind many of its major achievements.

Although the publishing company was sold in the 1960’s it remains as a known imprint to this day. Blanche died in 1966. Alfred Knopf passed away in 1984.

Note from Jeff:
Thank you to everyone who has downloaded this app and joined me on this journey. I wish you all much blessing, health, and healing in 5771.

שנה טובה
Happy New Year

So says God,
“A voice cries in Rama,
Wailing, bitter crying is heard,
Rachel is crying for her children,
She refuses to be consoled,
Since they are gone.”

So says God,
“Refrain your voice from crying,
Your eyes from tears,
There is a reward for your work, says God,
They will return from the lands of the enemies.”

There is hope at the end, says God, the children will return to their boundaries.

I have surely heard Ephraim (the Northern tribes) talking to himself,
“I have been rebuked, I will be corrected,
Like a calf who is yet untrained.
Return me, and I will return,
Since you are my God.”

“After I returned, I relented; after I knew (what I did)
I slapped my thigh. I am ashamed, and disgraced, since I have bore
The disgrace of my youth.”

“Ephraim is a precious child to me, a
Child of my pleasure:
The more I speak of him,
The more I remember him.
My insides pine for him.

I will surely have compassion on him,”
Says God.

Yermiah 31:14-19

8 September in History

In 1916, Salonica government declares compulsory military service is now required and that all Jews over 21 cannot leave from its newly acquired provinces.

29 Elul in History

Rav Eliezer Deutsch of Bonihad [or Bonyhad] (1914). Author of P’ri Hasadeh, Duda-ei Hasadeh. Bonihad is a small town in Tolna County in Hungary. The first document on the Jews of Bonyhád is a tax conscritption from 1741, although on the testimony of a few tombstones in the cemetery, Jews had already settled earlier, in the first decades of the century. In 1802, there were 400 Jewish families and an impressive synagogue and yeshivah. The population of about 6,500 in 1930 consisted of about 15% Jews, the largest number of Jews in Tolna County. With the German occupation in 1944, 1,180 Jews were deported to Pecs and then to Auschwitz. All but 50 perished. In 1963, 4 Jewish families remain in Bonyhad.

9 September in History

In 1850, California joins the Union adding a 33rd star to the U.S. flag. A year before California joined the Union there were enough Jews to hold Yom Kippur Services in San Francisco. By the end of the decade there were ten congregations in San Francisco and one in Sacramento. During this time there were two Jewish associate justices of the state court and at least one Jew was serving in the state legislature.

1 Tishrei in History

In 3760 BCE, on 1 Tishrei — the sixth day of creation — “God said: ‘Let us make Man in Our image, after Our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth…'” (Genesis 1:26). “God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (ibid., 2:7). “And God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden, to work it and to keep it” (2:15). “And G-d said: ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helpmeet opposite him’ … God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and He took one of his sides, and closed up the flesh in its place. And God built the side which He had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man. And the man said: ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother, and cleaves to his wife; and they become one flesh” (2:18-24).

It was also the day that the first transgression, and repentance, occurred.

10 September in History

In 1950, according to reports published today, the government of Israel will be issuing a stamp at harvest time picturing Stahveet, a cow which has produced 100,000 litres of milk, which may be a world’s record.

2 Tishrei in History

Today marks the passing of Gedaliah ben Achikam, assasinated by Yishmael ben Nesanya. Gedaliah was appointed as governor over the Jews by Nebuchadnetzer after the destruction of the Temple 422 BCE or 419 BCE.

11 September in History

Marks the ninth year since the attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and the heroic acts of Flight 93.

Below are two recordings of cell phone calls from Flight 93:

“I have to go. They’re breaking into the cockpit. I love you.” Honor Elizabeth Wainio told her stepmother.

“Everyone is running up to first class. I’ve got to go. Bye.” Flight attendant Sandra Bradshaw to her husband.

3 Tishrei in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Yisrael Lipshitz of Danzig, author of Tiferet Yisrael, a popular commentary on the Mishnayot (1782-1860). He also authored Shevilei D’rakiya, an introduction to the principles of Rabbinical astronomy and determining the Molad (new moon); it appears in the beginning of Seder Mo’ed in the “Tiferes Yisrael” sets of Mishnayot.

Additionally, he wrote ”Derush Ohr HaChaim” (Homily on the Light of Life) which debates the eternality of the soul.

He who has provoked his neighbor, even by words, must appease him, as it is written [Prov. vi. 1, etc.]: “My son, if you have become debtor for your friend,” etc., “go hasten to him and urge your friend,” which means, if you have his money, open your palm, and restore it to him; if not, request some persons to pray him to forgive you.

Yoma Chapter 8


7 September in History

70 CE, On the secular calendar the date on which a Roman army under Titus occupied and plundered Jerusalem.

28 Elul in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Aryeh Carmell (1917-2006) was born in England . At the age of 16, Aryeh was sent to study under Rav Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler and became his talmid muvhak (student par excellance). Rav Carmell began to compile Rav Dessler’s teachings under his guidance. After the war he married, making his home in London. He would spend the morning hours learning with some of London’s leading Rabbis. In the afternoon he would go to his office to work for a few hours, setting aside time every day to organize chessed and outreach activities.

He was among the first to become involved in Jewish outreach over 50 years ago. Following Rav Dessler’s petirah he started Yad Eliyahu in London, where children who studied at public schools were taught ahavas Torah and yiras Shomayim. He published Michtav MeEliyohu, a compilation of Rav Dessler’s teachings. The first three volumes were edited with Rav Alter Halperin and Rav Chaim Friedlander, while Rav Carmell edited the fourth and fifth volumes by himself. He also adapted parts of the work into a book in English called Strive for Truth. He also co-edited Challenge: Torah Views on Science and its Problems and wrote an important booklet called Aid to Talmud Study.

When the wave of Russian aliya began he wrote a book called Masterplan. Based on Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch’s Chorev, it also presented reasons behind the commandments. Moving to Eretz Yisrael in 1972, Carmell settled in Jerusalem’s Bayit Vegan neighborhood and helped Rav Boruch Horowitz found Yeshivas Dvar Yerushalayim, Jerusalem’s first yeshiva for baalei teshuvoh returnees to Judaism. He gave lectures on gemora, Jewish perspectives, and ethics.

All sins mentioned in the Torah, whether one repents not, are atoned by the Day of Atonement, except throwing off the yoke (of God), expounding the Torah falsely, and abolition of circumcision (and mocking a fellow man). These sins are atoned for by the Day of Atonement, if one repents, but not otherwise.

Yoma Chapter 8


6 September in History

In 1938, while traveling on the highway between Haifa and Tel Aviv Yechiel Weizmann, Chaim Weizmann’s brother and Yechiel’s son were injured when their car overturned after being fired on by gunmen lying in ambush. Another passenger, the son a prominent Haifa lawyer, died in the crash.

27 Elul in History

Elul 27 is the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Shalom Rokeach (1779-1855), founder of the Belz Chassidic dynasty.

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.

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May 2020