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R. Samuel b. Na’hmain in the name of R. Jonathan finds a contradiction of the following two verses: ‘The precepts of the God are upright, rejoicing the heart,'(Ps. xix. 9) and ‘The word of God refines (ibid. xviii. 31).’ In one place the word of God makes a person rejoice, in the other the word of God refines a person.

This can be answered as follows: If he has merited, it makes him rejoice; otherwise, it refines him.

Yoma Chapter 7

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26 July in History

In 1605, a Jesuit Missionary traveling though China wrote a letter describing his meetings with Ai T’ien, a Chinese Jewish teacher. Most of what we know regarding the Kaifeng Jewish community is from this correspondence. The community was known by their Han Chinese neighbors as adherents of Tiaojinjiao (挑筋教), meaning, loosely, the religion which removes the sinew, a reference to the dietary restriction which prohibits eating the sciatic nerve.

15 Av in History

In wake of the incident of the “Spies,” in which the generation that came out of Egypt under Moses’ leadership demonstrated their unpreparedness for the task of conquering and settling the Holy Land, God decreed that entire generation would die out in the desert. After 38 years of wandering through the wilderness the dying finally ended, and a new generation of Jews stood ready to enter the Holy Land. It was the 15th of Av of the year 2487 from creation (1274 BCE).

Today is famous for many other events, such as in ancient Israel, it was the custom that on the 15th of Av “the daughters of Jerusalem would go out in borrowed linen garments (so as not to embarrass those without beautiful clothes of their own)… and dance in the vineyards” and “whoever did not have a wife would go there” to find himself a bride (Talmud, Taanit 31a).

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