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Rava would say to his students, “I beg of you, do not inherit two portions of Gehinom (hell).”

Rashi: Two portions of Gehinom: to be involved in studying Torah in this world and not fulfilling it will cause you to inherit Gehinom at death; and in your life you did not get pleasure from your toil.

Yoma Chapter 7
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22 July in History

Birthdate of the poet Emma Lazarus 1849. She became famous as the author of “The New Colossus” written in 1883, four years before her death. This poem appears at the base of the Statue of Liberty and is a celebration of America as the land of the immigrant. The poem read:

The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles.
From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Emma Lazarus, 1883

To give one a sense of the times in which she lived the New York Times described her not as a Jew, but as who belonged “to one of the best known and oldest Hebrew families of the city…”

10 Av in History

Rav Don Yitzchak Abarbanel (1437-1508). Abrabanel was born in Lisbon, Portugal, to an illustrious Sephardic family which traced its lineage back to David Hamelech. His grandfather, Rav Shmuel, escaped from Seville, Spain, when the Catolics destroyed the Jewish quarter, mudering many Jews.

When Rav Yitzchak was only 20, he completed his first book, Ateres Zekeinim, and began to work on his famous commentary on the Torah. In the Summer of 1471, following the victory of King Alfonso V over Morocco, an emissary of the Moroccan Jewish community, Emmanuel ben Yitzchak, approached Don Yitzchak Abrabanel with a plea to assist in the ransom of 250 Jewish would-be slaves. The Abarbavnel was not only successful, he added his own funds to supply food and medicine.

Abarbanel served as treasurer to King Alfonso until he was forced to move to Castile (Spain) and eventually entered the service of Ferdinand and Isabella in 1484. In March 1492, an edict was issued expelling the Jews from Spain, after the conquest of Granade. Despite his political influence he was unable to prevent the expulsion in 1492 and refused the king’s offer to remain at his post, choosing instead to throw in his lot with his people. On Tisha B’Av, he led 300,000 Jews out of the country. Only 10% reached safe shores.

Rav Yitzchak found asylum in Naples, where he remained for seven years, until the French invaded. He then fled to Corfu and finally – in 1503 – to Venice, where he died. Most of his writings were composed in his later years when he was free of governmental responsibilities.

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