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When R. Zara was on bad terms with any person, he would walk by him repeatedly, that the other might change his heart, and appease him.

Yoma Chapter 8


Today (13 September) Michelangelo begins work on his statue of David in 1503.

It was on 5 Tishrei that Naftali, son of Jacob and Bilhah, was born and passed away.

5 Tishrei also marks the day when the great Talmudic sage, Rabbi Akiva, was taken captive by the Romans in the year 3894 from creation (134 CE).

R. Jose b. Hanina said, “When one tries to appease another, he does not need to try more than three times, as it is written [Gen. l. 17]: I pray You, forgive, I pray You, the trespass of your brothers, and their sin, for evil have they done unto you, and now we pray of you, forgive

If the offended person is dead, he should bring ten people to his grave and say: I have sinned against God and him who lies here.

Yoma Chapter 8


Today (4 Tishrei) the fast of Gedalia is observed. Gedaliah was appointed as governor over the Jews by Nebuchadnetzer after the destruction of the Temple 422 BCE or 419 BCE. He was assassinated on the second day of Rosh Hashana, and as such the fast is most often observed the day after Rosh Hashana, on the 3rd of Tishrei. This year, the Sabbath immediately followed Rosh Hashana, which pushes off the fast an additional day.

Today (12 September) was the birthdate of Alfred A. Knopf in 1892, founder of Alfred Knopf, Inc., the famous American publishing house. “He went to college to become a lawyer, but he fell in love with literature and decided to devote his life to it. At the time, the publishing world was a kind of gentlemen’s club and Knopf had a hard time fitting in because he was Jewish. He was the first Jewish employee at Doubleday. One of his first projects was to republish all of Joseph Conrad’s books in a set, which he did with the help of H.L. Mencken.

At the time that Knopf got into the publishing business, before television and widespread radio, people said that Americans didn’t read books—they just read the newspapers. Knopf thought that Americans might be more likely to read good books if books were beautiful to look at. He used beautiful, easy to read type and high quality paper, and he was the first publisher to cover his books with brightly colored jackets.

When Knopf founded his own publishing company, he didn’t have enough money to publish big-name American authors, so he published European authors instead. Most American publishers didn’t care about European literature, so Knopf was able to cheaply publish writers like Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka, and Albert Camus. When several of his authors won the Nobel Prize for Literature, Alfred A. Knopf Inc. became known as one of the best literary publishing houses.” It was his Jewish wife Blanche Wolf Knopf who encouraged him to follow his dream and start his own publishing house. She was more than just a cheerleader. She was President of Alfred A. Knopf, while her husband served as chairman of the board. She understood the publishing and was a driving force behind many of its major achievements.

Although the publishing company was sold in the 1960’s it remains as a known imprint to this day. Blanche died in 1966. Alfred Knopf passed away in 1984.

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November 2020