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Prayer averts the evil decree, as is said, [Psalms, cvii. 19]: “They cry to the God when they are in distress, and He saves them out of their afflictions.”

Rosh Hashana Chapter 1

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10 March in History

In 1861, today is the birthdate of Meier Dizengoff. A native of Bessarabia, he would make Aliyah in 1905, help found Tel Aviv in 1909 and then became its first mayor.

4 Adar in History

The tragic saga of the imprisonment of Rabbi Meir ben Baruch (“Maharam”) of Rothenburg came to a close when his body was ransomed, 14 years after his death, by Alexander ben Shlomo (Susskind) Wimpen.

“Maharam” (1215?-1293) was the leading Torah authority in Germany, and authored thousands of Halachic responsa as well as the Tosaphot commentary of the Talmudic tractate Yoma. In 1283 he was imprisoned in the Ensisheim fortress and held for a huge ransom, but he forbade the Jewish community to pay it (based on the Talmudic ruling that exorbitant sums should not be paid to free captives, as this would encourage the taking of hostages for ransom). For many years Maharam’s disciple, R. Shimon ben Tzadok, was allowed to visit him in his cell and recorded his teachings in a work called Tashbetz.

Even after the Maharam’s passing in 1293, his body was not released for burial until it was ransomed by R. Alexander, who was subsequently laid to rest at his side.

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