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If one have before himself many religious duties, he can say: “Blessed be He who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded to us many duties.”

R. Jehudah, however, said: He must pronounce the benediction before each one separately.

The Halakha is according to R. Jehudah.

What is the reason of R. Jehudah?

Because it is written [Ps. lxviii. 20]: “Blessed be the Lord, day by day.”

Sukkah Chapter 4

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21 November in History

In 164 BCE on the secular calendar,  Judas Maccabaeus, son of Mattathias of the Hasmonean family, restores the Temple in Jerusalem, events commemorated each year by the festival of Channukah.

 

14 Kislev in History

Reuben, the eldest son of Jacob and Leah, was born in Charan (Mesopotamia) on the 14th of Kislev of the year 2193 from creation (1568 BCE).  He died on his 125th birthday in 2318 (1443 BCE).

Today marks the passing of Rav Menashe ben Yisrael of Amsterdam, author of Nishmas Odom. He was as friend of Rembrandt van Rijn, who apart from making an etching of the Rabbi also illustrated his books. It was Rabbi Menashe, whom together with Rabbi Jacob Sasportas, pleaded with Oliver Cromwell to allow the Jews to settle in England on philosophical and theological grounds.

 

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If one ate in the Sukkah and rain fell, and he went away and took his meal in the house, when it clears again we do not trouble him to interrupt his meal, and to go back to the Sukkah.

If he was sleeping in the Sukkah and it rained, and he went to sleep in the house, he does not need to go back to his Sukkah if it clear again.

Sukkah Chapter 2

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Reflections:

How does the compassion of this law inform us about the rest of the laws?

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26 October in History

In 1407, mobs attacked the Jews in Cracow, Poland. The so-called Cracow Accusations was one of the first libels in Poland. The Jews tried to defend themselves and were forced to take refuge in the Church of St. Anne which was surrounded and then set afire. Any children left alive were forcibly baptized.

18 Cheshvan in History

Born in 1932, Meir Kahane was a controversial American-Israeli rabbi and activist. In 1968, he founded the Jewish Defense League in New York. With the motto of “Never Again,” the stated goal of the organization was to protect Jews from anti-Semitism in all its forms. In 1971, he moved his family to Israel, founding the Kach political party, and he was elected to the Knesset in 1984 (the Kach party was later outlawed in Israel). In 1990, after concluding a speech in a Manhattan hotel, Kahane was fatally shot by an Egyptian-born terrorist.

While strangely acquitted of the murder, El Sayyid Nosair was later convicted in relation to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.  He later admitted his guild to having assassinated Rabbi  Kahane.

Rabbi Akiva said, “Happy are you, Israel. Before whom do you cleanse yourselves? Who cleanses you? Your Father who in Heaven. It is written, (Ezek. xxxvi. 25), “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and you will be clean”; and it is also written, “The Mikveh (hope, or legal bath) of Israel is the Lord.” As the immersion bath purifies the unclean, so does the Holy One, blessed be He, cleanse Israel.

Yoma Chapter 8

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2 September in History

In 1926, today is the birthdate of department store mogul, political activist and philanthropist Betsy Bloomingdale.

23 Elul in History

On the 301st day of the great Flood, Noah sent a dove for the 2nd time from the ark. This time, the dove stayed away all day; “the dove came in to him in the evening, and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off; and Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth” (Genesis 8:11).

Rabbi Assi said, “Come and see, how the traits of the Holy One Blessed is He are not like the traits of humanity.

When a human curses another, he tried to punish him thoroughly.

But God, He punished the snake, and if the snake should go up on a roof, or down on the ground, his food is with him.

He punished Cannan (with being the progenitor of slaves) and the slave gets to eat whatever the master is eating.

He punished women, and all run after her.

He punished the land, and all are sustained from her.

Yoma Chapter 8

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3 August in History

It was on this day in 1492 that Columbus set sail for the New World. There is an entry in Columbus’ diary noting the expulsion of Jews from Spain right before he set sail. He was accompanied by Luis de Torres who is considered to be the first Jew to arrive in the “New World.”

23 Av in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, the Steipler Gaon, author of Kehillas Yaakov (1899-1985). His father, Reb Chaim Peretz, was a shochet, ritual slaughter, in Horensteipel. When Ren Chaim Peretz was 60 years old, his wife died, leaving him with three daughters. He asked his rebbe, Rav Mordechai Dov, the son-in-law of Rav Chaim Sanzer, whether he should remarry. On the latter’s recommendation, he married a young woman, and he fathered three sons.

The oldest was Rav Yaakov Yisrael. At the age of 11, Rav Yaakov Yisrael was recruited to learn with Rav Yosef Yosel Hurvitz at Novardock. At 19, he was sent by the Alter of Novardock to head a yeshiva at Rogatshov. After a stint in the Russian army, he was appointed rosh yeshiva of Novardock at Pinsk. The Chazon Ish saught him as a husband for his sister. He authored many works, most notably Kehillas Yaakov. His son, Rav Chaim Kanievsky, is a leading Torah authority in Yisrael.

A heretic once said to Rabbi Haninah, “Now that you are impure, as the verse in Lamentations states ‘Her (the Jewish People’s) impurity is in her skirts (meaning, in the extremities, in exile) (Lam. 1)’ what is your relationship with God?”

Rabbi Haninah answered, “Come and see what is written, ‘He dwells with them in the midst of their impurity.’ (Lev. 16) Meaning, even when the Jewish people are impure, the Divine Presence is with them.

Yoma Chapter 5

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1 July in History

In 1878, at the insistence of Prussian Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck the Congress of Berlin incorporated into the Treaty of Berlin an article intended to provide the Jews of Romania with the opportunity for full citizenship. Unfortunately, the Romanians evaded the article and only a hand full of Jews would gain citizenship.

19 Tammuz in History

Today is the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Yitzchak HaLevi Herzog (1889-1959) was born in Łomża, Poland, and moved to the United Kingdom with his family in 1898. He served as rabbi of Belfast from 1916 to 1919 and was appointed rabbi of Dublin in 1919. He went on to serve as Chief Rabbi of Ireland between 1922 and 1936, after which he immigrated to Israel to succeed the late Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook as Chief Rabbi of Israel. He served as Chief Rabbi until his death in 1959. He authored numerous works including Divrei Yitzchak, an anthology of Talmudic discourses, and the halachic work Hechal Yitzchak.

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