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(At the water libation ceremony on Sukkot)

Levi tried in the presence of Rabi to throw and catch eight knives. Samuel tried to do so in the presence of Sha’bur the king with eight goblets full of wine; and Abayi in the presence of Rabha with eight eggs, according to others with four eggs.

Sukkot Chapter 5

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9 January in History

In 1873, today was the birthdate of Chaim Nachman Bialik. Born in a Ukrainian village, fatherless at the age of seven, raised by a strict Orthodox grandfather, Bialik became the father of Modern Hebrew poetry. While Herzl, Ben-Gurion and others were busy creating Zionism in the political sphere, Bialik was one of those giving birth to the Zionist dream in the field of culture.

When he began writing his poetry in Hebrew, it was still a language of the Bible – the holy tongue not to be used in modern parlance. Bialik used Hebrew to express modern feelings and emotions, yet always tied back to his Jewish roots. He is variously described as the “poet laureate of the Jewish national movement” and “Israel’s National Poet.”

He gained early fame for his two poems written after the Kishinev Pogrom in 1903 – The City of Slaughter and On the Slaughter. In his poems he attacked the mobs who had slaughtered the Jews. But he also called upon the Jews to resist future attackers. So powerful were his words, that they helped the modern Zionist movement develop its ethic of self-defense. According to some critics, two of his greatest poems are “Metei Midbar” (Dead of the Desert) and “Megillat Ha’esh” (Scroll of Fire).

He passed away in 1934 and his home in Tel Aviv was converted into a museum named in his honor.
He said:

“Reading a poem in translation is like kissing a woman through a veil.”

4 Shevat in History

Today marks the passing of Asher the son Yaakov Avinu (1562-1439 B.C.E.)

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