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Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai said, “I see the greatest men in the world are very few. If they are a thousand, I and my son are included; if they are a hundred, I and my son are included, and if they are only two, they are I and my son.”

Sukkah Chapter 4

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Reflection:

What lesson is Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai teaching?

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15 November in History

In 1660, Asser Levy was licensed as the first kosher butcher in New York City. From such humble beginnings came such great institutions as the Second Avenue Deli.

8 Kislev in History

Rav Eliezer Geldzahler (1958-2004), born to Rav Eliyahu Yehoshua Geldzahler, founder of Mosdos Ohr Yisrael of Queens and a student of Rav Shraga Feivel Mendelowitz, Rav Reuven Grozovsky, and Rav Gedaliah Schorr. Rav Eliezer’s mother, Henna Freidel, was the daughter of Rav Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler. As a child, he learned in his father’s yeshiva, where he made a siyum (completion celebration) for Gemara Bava Basra before his Bar Mitzvah. As a bachur (student), he learned at Yeshiva Zichron Yaakov in South Fallsburg under Rav Elya Ber Wachtfogel. From there, he went to Yerushalayim to learn in the yeshiva of Rav Dovid Soleveitchik. He spent several years in the Lakewood Kollel.

In 1980, he married Baila, the daughter of Rav Michel and Rebbetzin Feige Twersky of Milwaukee. He opened Yeshiva Ohr Yisrael in Brooklyn and served as its Rosh yeshiva, developing a mesivta and a yeshiva gedola. In January of 2004, the bus he was on in Israel was involved in a crash, and he was critically injured. He never recovered from his injuries and passed away 10 months later.

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Hezekiah said in the name of R. Yirniha in the quoting R. Shimon Bar Yoahai, “I could exempt the entire world from from its judgement from the day I was created until now.  And, if you include my son Elazar with me, together we could exempt the world from its judgement from the day the world was created until now.

Sukkah Chapter 4

Rashi comments: Exempt: in my merit, I could bare all the deeds and sins of everyone, and exempt them from judgement.

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The Mahrasha comments that R. Shimon Bar Yohai was making this statement in reference to the suffering he and his son endured while hiding in the cave to escape from the Roman authorities.

Reflections:

1.  Why does physical anguish alleviate  judgement?

2.  What does R. Shimon’s statement indicate about the interrelated connection between leaders and the rest of humanity?

3. Notice R. Shimon does not limit his statement to the Jewish people, but to all of humanity.

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14 November in History

In 1916, today is this birthdate of writer and producer, Sheldon Schwartz. Schwartz is another Jew who played a key role in the creation of what some call middlebrow American culture. He wrote for Ozzie and Harriet, produced The Brady Bunch and created and produced Gilligan’s Island.

7 Kislev in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Dovid Sinzheim of Strasbourg, France (1745-1812). He served as President of the “Sanhedrin” established by Napolean, the first meeting of which occurred on February 9th, 1807.

On October 6, 1806, the Assembly of Notables issued a proclamation to all the Jewish communities of Europe, inviting them to send delegates to the Sanhedrin, to convene on October 20. This proclamation, written in Hebrew, French, German, and Italian, speaks in extravagant terms of the importance of this revived institution and of the greatness of its imperial protector. While the action of Napoleon aroused in many Jews of Germany the hope that, influenced by it, their governments also would grant them the rights of citizenship, others looked upon it as a political contrivance. When in the war against Prussia (1806–7) the emperor invaded Poland and the Jews rendered great services to his army, he remarked, laughing, “The sanhedrin is at least useful to me.”

 

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