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“Who fed you manna in the wilderness, which your fathers did not know, in order to afflict you (Deut. 8:16).” What was the affliction? R. Ami and R. Assi both had an interpretation, one explained that not to have bread in one’s basket is an affliction; the manna had to be hoped for every day. The other explained, not to see what one eats (the manna) is an affliction, since the manna had all the flavors any food you wished for, but always had the same appearance.

Yoma Chapter 8


27 July in Hitory

Bugs Bunny, with the voice of Mel Blanc, makes his official debut in the animated cartoon A Wild Hare.

16 Av in history

Sir Moses Montefiore (1784-1885). Born in Livorno, Italy, of Sephardic descent, he traced his lineage back to the exiles from the Spanish Expulsion. When he was still a young child his family resettled in England. Young Moses became a member of the London Stock Exchange at a time when there were only 12 licensed Jewish brokers in all of England. In a matter of a few years he had amassed great wealth and had become a member of the London Aristocracy.

In 1812, he married his wife Judith, whose sister was the wife of Reb Nathan Meyer Rothschild, one of the wealthiest Jews in Europe at the time. Sir Moses eventually became the stockbroker for his brother-in-law and as a result of their partnership they amassed a tremendous fortune. In addition, he was a partner in a large insurance company as well as a gas company that introduced gas lighting to many of the major cities of Europe. Sir Moses also had a hand in building railroads and many other industrial and financial enterprises.

In 1837, Montefiore was appointed Sheriff of London. In the same year, Queen Victoria, who had recently ascended the British Throne, awarded him the honorary title of Knighthood, bestowing upon him the title “Sir” Moses. In 1846, he was elevated to the rank of Baron.

By the time he was 41 years old, Sir Moses, with his wife’s encouragement, decided to retire from business affairs and devote the rest of his life, time and considerable resources to Jewish affairs. The welfare of the Jewish People became his sole business for the next 60 some years and his list of accomplishments is truly magnificent. When he was appointed as Sheriff of London, he specifically wrote in his contract that he would be absolved from working on Shabbat and other Jewish holidays. He also specified that he was to be absolved from entering a Church on non-Jewish holidays.

Even when he was traveling, he almost always made sure to travel with an entourage of at least 10 Jews to ensure that he would have a minyan. He also took one of the many sifrei Torah that he owned along with him.

In 1840, a monk named Thomas disappeared from his home several weeks before Pesach. The French Counsel in Damascus blamed the Jews for his disappearance and claimed that they killed the monk to use his blood for matzoh. Prominent Damascus Jews were imprisoned and tortured. Many died and some, who could not withstand the torture, “confessed” under duress to the crime. Upon learning of it, Sir Moses traveled to Damascus to save the country and the honor of the Jewish people.

In 1846, Sir Moses was invited by the Russian government to visit Russia in connection with its Jewish situation. Upon returning to London, he demanded equal rights for the Jews and stressed that it would also be an economic blessing for the country.

Montefiore’s 100th birthday was celebrated as an official holiday in London and he was accorded great honor by both Jew and non-Jew alike. The Montefiores died childless.

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November 2020