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“A concern in a person’s heart, yisechena” (Prov. 12)

Rav Ami says, yisechena means he should remove it [the concern] from his heart.

Rav Assi says, yisechena means he should tell it to another.

Rashi explains: tell to another–perhaps he will be able to provide you with advice.

Yoma Chapter 8


1 August in History

Today is the birthday of Rabbi Tuvia Geffen, longtime leader of Congregation Shearith Israel. He held a deep connection to Orthodoxy, yet also valued secular education. Four of his boys attended Emory University, a Methodist University. He received a special exemption for his boys from needing to attend chapel on Sundays, and from taking notes or tests on Saturdays. His children did need to walk four miles to classes until a local Jewish family was found that the boys were able to spend Shabbat with.

While in Atlanta, he oversaw the Kashrut of Coca-Cola, and as such is one of the few people to ever learn all the well guarded recipe. Because of this knowledge, he was often known as The Coca-Cola Rabbi.

21 Av in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Chaim Soleveitchik of Volozhin and Brisk (1853-1918). Son of the Beis Halevi, Rav Yosef Dov Soleveitchik, Rav Chaim was born in Volozhin, but moved with his family to Slutzk while still quite young, when his father became Rav of the city.

When Rav Chaim was 20, he married Lifsha, the daughter of Rav Raphael Shapira, the son-in-law of the Netziv. Since Rav Raphael was a rish mesivta in Volozhin, Rav Chaim moved there. When Rav Raphael moved away, Rav Chaim took the post of rosh mesivta Volozhin in 1880.

In 1892, following the closing of the Volozhin yeshivah, Rav Chaim moved to Brisk where he succeeded his father as the community Rav. Rav Chaim is buried next to the Netziv in the Jewish cemetery in Warsaw. His oldest son was Rav Moshe, who was the father of Rav Yosef Dov and Rav Ahron Soleveitchik. His other famous son was Rav Yitzchak Zev (the “GRIZ”), also known as Reb Velvel, the Brisker Rav of Yerushalayim.

Note: The Jewish Almanac will now start to update to accommodate the communities on the east side of the Atlantic.  For those of us in the west side, you may need to view the second post down.  I think this is a small inconvenience to better serve our tight-knit (1095 downloads over two months) world-wide (40 countries) community.

Thanks to those of you who have written in, giving me this advice.

Chodesh Tov,




It happened to one high-priest going out from the Temple, and the whole community was accompanying him, that the community perceived Shemaia and Abtalian (who were great scholars). The people then left the high-priest, and accompanied Shemaia and Abtalian.

Later, Shemaia and Abtalian came to take leave of the high-priest. He said to them, “May the children of the Gentiles (they were proselytes’ descendants) go in peace.”

They replied to him, “The children of the Gentiles may go in peace, because they do what Aaron the high-priest did; but the children of Aaron may not have peace, who do not what Aaron did (love not peace).”

Yoma Chapter 7


12 July in History

It was on this day in 1191 that the armies of the Third Crusade (1189-92), led by England’s King Richard (‘The Lionhearted’), captured the Syrian seaport of Acre. The Third Crusade would end in failure for the Christian forces. King Richard would be taken prisoner by the Austrians on his way home. The Jews of England would be called upon to help pay the ransom of their monarch, who had left the kingdom under the control of his brother Prince John.

1 Av in History

Aaron the first High Priest, brother of Moses and Miriam, passed away at age 123 on the 1st of Av of the year 2487 from creation (1274 BCE). This is the only yahrzeit explicitly mentioned in the Torah (Numbers 33:38).

Today is the passing of Rav Shlomo Halberstam (1908-2000), son of Rav Ben Zion, grandson of Rav Shlomo, founder of the Bobov dynasty. At the outbreak of World War II, he and his father escaped to Lemberg. On the fourth of Av 1942 his father was killed, and Rav Shlomo escaped to the Bochnia Ghetto. In Bochnia, the Rav lost his Rebbetzin and two children. He managed to escape with his only surviving child, Naftali, to Budapest, and then to Bucharest. During the war, Halberstam dressed up as a nun to rescue other Jews, hiding them in the false bottom of a coal truck. Rav Shlomo is believed to have been the last remaining Chassidic rabbi to have survived the Holocaust.

Born in the Galicia region of central Europe, Rav Halberstam arrived in the United States in 1946, alone and indigent after his group was largely obliterated by the Nazis. Rav Halberstam is widely credited with rebuilding the Bobover community in the United States after the war.



The rabbis taught: Ben Kamtsar did not want to teach the art of writing. It was said of him: He used to take four quills between his four fingers, and when he had to write a word of four letters, he wrote it at once.
The Rabbis asked him, “Why do you not teach it to others?”
He found no answer.
Therefore of the first (the families of Garmu and Avtinas it is said “The memory of the just is blessed”; and of Ben Kamtsar and his family it is said: “The name of the wicked shall rot.”

What is meant by “rot”? How can a name “rot”? R. Elazar said, “Their name will contract such a rottenness that children will not be named after them.”

Yoma Chapter 3


8 June in History

In 1789, James Madison introduces a proposed Bill of Rights in the House of Representatives. Those favoring ratification of the U.S. Constitution promised that a Bill of Rights (what would be the first ten amendments to the Constitution) would be enacted as soon as the new federal government was formed. The First Amendment is of particular importance to adherents to a faith tradition in general and Jews in particular because it guarantees freedom of religion in the nation’s organic document. This has made the experience of Jews in the United States different from all other Diaspora Communities.

26 Sivan in History

Today is the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Yonatan Ben Uziel. He lived in the Second Temple era and was a student of Hillel the Elder.
There is a Rabbinic saying that attests to his stature of scholarship and piety, “Hillel the Elder had eighty students. Thirty were worthy of the Divine Presence resting on them as it did for Moses; another thirty were worthy of having the sun stop as it did for Yehoshua the son of Nun. The other twenty were in between. The greatest of this group was Yonatan Ben Uziel.”

He wrote a translation on the Bible and the Books of the Prophets in Aramaic . This translation is printed in most Bibles.



The family of Avtinas were skilled at making the incense, but would not teach how to make it. As with the family of Garmu (see yesterday’s post) the Avtinas family refused to teach how to make the incense out of fear that when the Temple would be destroyed, other people might make the mixture to serve idolatry.

The Avtinas family’s memory is a blessing: on account that their women would never wear perfume, so people should not suspect that they were taking the Temple’s incense for their personal use. Further, anyone who married into the family, had to agree not to use perfume.

Yoma Chapter 3


7 June in History

For the first time, Jews were ordered to wear distinctive clothing was mandated in Spain (1233). The following year Pope Gregory IX developed guidelines for this, sent in the form of a letter to the King of Navarra: “Since we desire that Jews be recognizable and distinguished from Christians, we order you to impose upon each and every Jew of both sexes a sign, one round patch of yellow cloth of linen to be worn on the uppermost garment.”

In 1936, then 25 year old John F. Kennedy arrived in Jerusalem during a visit to the Middle East

25 Sivan in History

Among the millions of Jews cruelly killed by the Romans in the 2nd Century, BCE, were the “Ten Martyrs”–all great sages and leaders of Israel–memorialized in a special prayer recited on Yom Kippur. Three of them–Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel, Rabbi Yishmael ben Elisha and Rabbi Chanina S’gan Hakohanim–were killed on Sivan 25.

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November 2020