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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


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.

“To the snake He said, ‘Dust will be your food.'” (Gen. 3).

Rav Ami and Rav Assi both commented on this. One said the explanation of this curse is that even if the snake were to eat any of the delicacies of the world, those foods would taste like dust.

The other explains the punishment was even if the snake were to eat any of the delicacies of the world, the snake would only be satiated when he ate dirt.

Yoma Chapter 8


2 August in History

The United States conducts its first census in 1790. Out of a population of four million people, there are approximately 2,000 Jews. Today the Jewish population is estimated at 5,128,000, or about 1.7% of the total population as of 2007.

Today is the birthdate of movie mogul Jack Warner (1892). Born in Canada, Warner and his four brothers founded Warner Brothers, which became a giant in the film industry. Among other claims to fame Warner Brothers produced “The Jazz Singer,” the first “talking” motion picture. Some of his stars included Bette Davis, James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart. Warner was known fir his frugality and was not necessarily that well liked. At one point his son and namesake said of his dad, “At times he gloried in being a no-good sonofabitch. If his brothers hadn’t hired him, he’d have been out of work.

In 1903, the first branch of Bank Leumi’s opened in Turkish Jaffa.

22 Av In History

Today marks the passing of Rav Mordechai ben Hillel, the “Mordechai” (~1230-1298). A descendent of the Ravyah, he was a principle disciple of the Maharam miRottenberg, and a close friend of the Rosh, who is considered one of the main pillars of Halacha, legal decision, to this day. The Mordechai cites views of French and German authorities and brings the piskei halacha (legal decisions) of the Tosefot (main European commentators on the Talmud) without the discussion, making their conclusions more easily understood.

He, his wife, and their five children were all burned at the stake during the Rindfleisch pogroms, when over 100,000 Jews in Bavaria and Austria were murdered, and well over 100 communities disappeared.

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November 2020