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Why were the sages of the early second Temple period called the Men of the Great Assembly? Because they restored God’s crown to its original glory.

How so? Moses had said [Deut. x. 17]: “The God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome.” Then rose Jeremiah and said, “The idolaters are destroying His Temple. Where is His awesomeness?” So he said only “the great, the mighty,” omitting “awesome.”

Then came Daniel, and said, “The idolaters keep as slaves His children. Where is His might?” So he omitted “mighty.”

Then came the men of the Great Assembly, and said, “On the contrary, this is His might, that He is patient toward the wicked. And this is His awesomeness, that if men had not felt His terror, how could such a small people (as Israel) keep itself among so many peoples of idolaters? Therefore they introduced again the phrase, “the God, the great, the awesome, the mighty.”

And the rabbis (Jeremiah and Daniel), how did they dare to modify what Moses had established? R. Elazar explains, “Because they knew the Holy One, blessed be He, loves truth. So they did not wish to lie to Him, to tell Him what they did not think.”

Yoma Chapter 7


8 July in History

In 1654, according to some sources, Jacob Barsimon left Holland aboard the Peartree for New Amsterdam. He was the first Jewish resident of New Amsterdam (New York). Other sources claim that the Peartree and Barsimon did not set sail until July 17 and did not arrive until August 22, 1654. Regardless of which dating one accepts, the origin of the Jewish Community is dated from September 7, 1653 when 23 Sephardic Jewish refugees from Recife (Brazil) arrived in New Amsterdam aboard the French ship, St. Charle

26 Tammuz in History

Today is the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried (1804-1886) who was born in Uzhhorod (Ungvar) in the Carpathian region of the Habsburg Empire (now Ukraine). When he was eight years old, Shlomo’s father, Rabbi Yosef, passed way, and Ungvar’s chief rabbi, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh Heller, assumed legal guardianship of Shlomo. In 1830, he abandoned his work as a wine merchant and accepted the position of Rabbi of Brezovica (Brezevitz). In 1849, he returned to Ungvar to serve as a rabbinical judge. Realizing that the average Jew required a basic knowledge of practical halachah, Rabbi Ganzfried compiled the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, an abbreviated digest of Jewish law. To this day, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch remains a classic halachic work, and it has been translated into many languages.

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May 2020