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Rise, be radiant, your light has come.
God’s honor will shine on you.
Darkness will cover the land,
Thick clouds will cover people;
God will shine on you,
His honor will be seen on you.

Nations will walk by your light;
Kings, by your shining radiance.


Your people, all of them are righteous;
They will inherit the land, forever.
[They are] the sprout I have planted;
My handiwork, which will glorify Me.

The smallest will be a thousand,
The young, a mighty nation.

I am God.
In its time, I will hasten it.

Isaiah 60:1-3; 21-22


27 August in History

In 1929, while Moslem leaders in Jerusalem have issued an appeal to Arab raiders to return to work and cease their attacks, widespread disorders occurred in Palestine. Marauding band of Arabs have left hundreds of victims, dead and wounded, from Dan to Beersheba while British troops have been unable to stop the violence.

17 Elul in History

In 2105 BCE, following the failed attempt to dispatch a raven from the ark, Noah sent a dove from the window of the ark to see if the great Flood that covered the earth had abated. “But the dove found no resting place for the sole of its foot” and returned to the ark; Noah waited seven days before making another attempt.

28 August in History

In 430 CE, St. Augustine of Hippo passed away. Augustine believed that Jews should be allowed to survive in a Christian world to provide credence to roots of Christianity. But Jews should live at best as “second class” citizens in that Christian world to serve as a reminder of their fall from God’s favor for rejecting Jesus as the Son of God and as proof that God had made the Christians the new Chosen People.

18 Elul in History

Today is the sixth of the the seven weeks of consolation that bridge the Shabbat after the Ninth of Av with the Shabbat preceding Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. A passage of consolation from the book of Isaiah is read as the Haftara.

Today marks the passing of Rav Yehuda Loew, the Maharal (1525-1609). Born in Posen, Poland, on the night of the Pesach Seder, to a distinguished family of rabbis that traced its ancestry to King Dovid.

He was the youngest of four brothers. The Maharal married at the age of 32 to Pearl. He had six girls and one boy who was named after the Maharal’s father, Betzalel. In 1553 he was elected rabbi of Nikolsburg and the Province of Moravia, where he remained for the following 20 years.

In 1573 he moved to Prague, where he opened a yeshiva. In 1592 the Maharal accepted the position of rabbi in Posen, returning to Prague in 1598 to serve as its chief rabbi.

The Maharal castigated the educational methods of his day where boys were taught at a very young age and insisted that children must be taught in accordance with their intellectual maturity. One of his leading disciples was R. Yom Tov Heller, author of the classic mishnaic commentary, Tosafos Yom Tov, who, in his introduction informs us that the Maharal greatly encouraged group study of the Mishna.

At the same time, he was fully conversant with the scientific knowledge of his time as well as friendly with some of the contemporary eminent scientists. His disciple, Dovid Ganz, worked in the observatory of Tycho Brahe, the distinguished astronomer.

He was a prolific writer, and his works include: Tiferet Yisrael on the greatness of Torah and mitzvot (good deeds); Netivot Olam, on ethics; Be’er Hagolah, a commentary on rabbinic sayings; Netzach Yisrael, on exile and redemption; Or Chadash, on the book of Esther; Ner Mitzvah, on Chanukah; Gevurot Hashem, on the Exodus; and many others.

Rav Kook stated that the “Maharal was the father of the approach of the Gaon of Vilna on the one hand, and of the father of Chasidut, on the other hand.” He has been described as a Kabbalist who wrote in philosophic language.

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May 2020