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Through faith, even lowly faith has a purpose. However, to guide your life, only exalted faith can rule.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

13 April in History

In 1852, today is the birthdate of Rabbi Haim (Henry) Pereira Méndez. Mendez was part of a family famous for its rabbis. Mendez began his career in England before moving to the United States where he served as rabbi for Shearith Israel (The Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue) in New York. He was also one of the founders of the Jewish Theological Seminary.

9 Nisan in History

Following his 180 day feast for all his international subjects, which ended a day earlier, King Achashverosh began a seven-day feast for his subjects living in Shushan, his capital. This feast ended with the death of his queen, Vashti.

Faith, from its exalted perspective, is able to raise a person to a level of courage that they could not achieve without faith.

Faith, from its lower perspective, weakens a person, until a person’s heart is no longer strong.

Weakening the heart is one of the elements of life that people seek to flee from.

The removal of weakening is achieved when one fulfills faith in its completeness, not when seeking to run away from faith.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

6 April in History

Today in 1119, King Richard I of England dies from an infection following the removal of an arrow from his shoulder. Richard spent most of his reign fighting to protect his lands in France or on the Third Crusade. While he was in England, he did protect his Jewish subjects. Jews did suffer during his Kingship. Among other things, they were forced to contribute a disproportionate amount towards the ransom collected to free Richard from the clutches of an Austrian duke. Richard’s death put King John on the throne. John openly exploited Jewish subjects. His tyranny brought on the Magna Charta which included a special section on treatment of the Jews.

2 Nisan in History

On the 2nd of Nissan, one day after the inauguration of the Tabernacle, Moses prepared the very first Red Heifer, in order to ritually purify the Jewish nation in preparation for the bringing of the Paschal Lamb in the newly erected Sanctuary.

That which causes faith to be seen in a deficient light, small and dark, causes heresy to cover faith’s head.

This is the trend of Divine Providence, in building the world with the existence of heresy and all of its theories, in order to awaken the power of life with faith with a complete heart, in order to raise faith to it’s highest levels, until it encompasses with it also the good elements that are in the theories of heresy, so that faith will be complete in its fullness.

Then, all the damage, that heresy brings on the world, will be changed for good; even the destructive force of heresy will return to the palace, full of splendor. ‘I will make the desert like Eden; and the desolate places like the garden of God.’ (Isaiah 51:3)

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

30 March in History

In 1882, birthdate of Austrian-born English psychoanalyst and child psychologist Melanie Klein. Klein developed methods of play technique and play therapy in analyzing and treating child patients. She passed away in 1960.

24 Adar in History

On Adar 24, Czar Alexander I of Russia declared the Blood Libel — the infamous accusation that Jews murdered Christian children to use their blood in the baking of matzah for Passover, for which thousands of Jews were massacred through the centuries — to be false. Nevertheless, nearly a hundred years later the accusation was officially leveled against Mendel Beilis in Kiev.

That which is written in books and appears in speeches about faith are ways of explaining that will bring a person to the internal kernel which is beyond contemplation and speech.

There are people who have no connection to that which is said in these books on faith. In their inner hearts they have the kernel, yet they act like fools when performing good deeds with their faith. These people are bad on the outside yet good on the internally, as is fitting for the era that proceeds the “heels of the messiah” which is a time of “externally bad, internally positive”; correlated to an donkey, which is an impure animal, yet has holiness buried inside it: it can take the place of a first born, and is raised above the limitations of that which is mundane yet pure.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

23 March in History

In 1907, in New York this evening, enough poor Jews presented their tickets which could be exchanged for 10 pounds of Matzoth and 5 pounds of floor to the store on Attorney Street, that 20,000 pounds of matzoth and 10,000 pounds of Matzah floor were needed to meet the demand.

17 Adar in History

In the year 91 BCE, Alexander Yannai of the Hasmonean family succeeded his brother Yehuda Aristoblus to the throne of Judea. Alexander Yannai was a Sadducee who virulently persecuted the Pharisees. At one point during his bloody reign, following a victory he scored on a battlefield, he invited all the Torah scholars for a celebratory feast. During this feast he was slighted by one of the guests, which led him to execute all the Torah scholars in attendance.

A few of the sages managed to escape to the town of Sulukus in Syria. There, too, they encountered anti-Semitic enemies who murdered many of the exiled sages. The handful of surviving Torah scholars went in to hiding, finding refuge in the home of an individual named Zevadai. On the night of the 17th of Adar they escaped the hostile city of Sulukus.

Eventually these surviving scholars revived Torah Judaism. The date they escaped the clutches of death was established as a day of celebration.

The controls that faith places on a person, in terms of belief, is also a kindness in its justice, in relation to its external appearance, to order the events of your life.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

16 March in History

Today in 1900, Herzl, in his never ending quest to have the rich and powerful support the creation of a Jewish homeland in Eretz Israel, had a luncheon with Eulenburg-Hertefeld, the German ambassador in Vienna.

19 Adar in History

Rabbi Judah ben Bezalel Lowe, known as the Maharal of Prague was famous among Jews and non-Jews alike. He was a mystic who was revered for his holiness and Torah scholarship, as well as his proficiency in mathematics, astronomy, and other sciences. Eventually, word of his greatness reached the ears of Emperor Rudolph II.

The Emperor invited the Maharal to his castle on February 23, 1592. There they conversed for one and a half hours, and developed a mutual respect for each other.

Rabbi Judah Lowe made use of his excellent connections with the Emperor, often intervening on behalf of his community when it was threatened by anti-Semitic attacks or oppression.

There are two elements that need to be clear to stand on the correct outlook of faith: 1) The truth of God, 2) The great need for the community and individual to know this truth.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

9 March in History

In 1943, the Nazis continued the transport of Greek Jews from Salonika to Auschwitz. Salonika was an ancient Jewish community. It became a haven for Sephardic Jews when they fled Spain at the end of the fifteenth century. It was renowned center for kabalistic studies.

3 Adar in History

The joyous dedication of the second Holy Temple (Beit HaMikdash) on the site of the 1st Temple in Jerusalem, was celebrated on the 3rd of Adar of the year 3412 from creation (349 BCE), after four years of work.

The First Temple, built by King Solomon in 833 BCE, was destroyed by the Babylonians in 423 BCE. At that time, the prophet Jeremiah prophesied: “So says God: After seventy years for Babylon will I visit you… and return you to this place.”

In 371 the Persian emperor Cyrus permitted the Jews to return to Judah and rebuild the Temple, but the construction was halted the next year when the Samarians persuaded Cyrus to withdraw permission. Achashverosh II (of Purim fame) upheld the moratorium. Only in 353 — exactly 70 years after the destruction — did the building of the Temple resume under Darius II.

Without recognition of faith, there is no room to place any of the possessions of life and human society. With a greater recognition of the need for these acquisitions for all paths of life, faith is supported.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

2 March in History

In 1382, the Mailotin Riots began in Paris. These riots were similar to the tax riots held two years previously. Both times the Jews were considered accomplices in over-oppressive taxes. Sixteen Jews fell victim to this outbreak violence.

26 Adar in History

In 1658, fifteen South American Jewish families of Sephardic lineage arrived in the United States and settled in Newport, Rhode Island. The families established a Jewish congregation, and for many years prayed weekly in private homes. When the need arose for a Jewish cemetery, the community purchased a parcel of land on Wednesday, February 28, 1677.

This was the very first piece of land in the colonies which was owned by a Jewish congregation. In this cemetery are buried many of the early members of this congregation, and it is still maintained by the Jewish community today.

All of the most exalted moments, be they of thought or of feeling, or action, need to be tied tightly to simple faith, which appears first in its simplicity in the heart of the youngest children; at its inner essence, that (child like) faith is more lofty than what one will ever learn or contemplate.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

23 February in History

In 1912, a New York Ladino language newspaper called La Aguila hit the presses, but failed due to lack of support and finished running on March 22 of the same year.

19 Adar in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Chaim Cheikel (Chaikel) of Amdur (Indura) (1787). Born to Rav Shmuel in Karlin, he was a disciple of the Vilna Gaon, and later became a student of Rav Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mazerich. Rav Chaim became one of the first Chassidic Admorim in 1772-73. He authotred Chaim Vochesed. Amdur is about 25 miles south of Grodno (Hrodno). Amdur and Grodno are located in the northwest corner of what is now the independent country of Belarus, close to the Lithuanian and Polish borders. During the Cossack revolt of 1648 against Polish landowners and gentry, over 100,000 Jews, mostly in Ukraine and southern Belarus, were murdered. However, the marauders did not advance north to the Grodno region. Jews comprised 80% of the population in Grodno at that time. Rav Chaim’s daughter married Moshe, the brother of Aharon, founder of Karlin Hassidism. Rav Chaim was succeeded by his son, Rav Shmuel of Amdur.

All commandments and their branches, for those who perform them, create in the life of the soul, and in the world, a form that correlates to how that command is connected to the depth of the reality of faith in God.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

16 February in History

In 2009, France’s top judicial body formally recognized the nation’s role in deporting Jews to Nazi death camps during the Holocaust – but effectively ruled out any more reparations for the deportees or their families. Jewish groups welcomed the ruling by the Council of State, the clearest legal acknowledgment to date of France’s role in the Holocaust. Nearly 70 years ago, the Vichy government helped deport some 76,000 people – including 11,000 children – from Nazi-occupied France to concentration camps during the war. Fewer than 3,000 returned alive.

12 Adar in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Chaim David Halevy (1924-1998). Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv for the last 25 years of his life, he was known to many as the author of the multi volume responsa Aseh Lecha Rav, on many contemporary halachic and hashkafic issues, and a six-volume halachic work entitled Mekor Chaim.

Each and every commandment is a form of faith, they come from the depth of faith; they are what the Godly faith, in its awesome wonder, obligates those who walk through life.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

9 February in History

In 1807, Napoleon convened the French Sanhedrin. The first meeting in Paris of the Napoleonic Sanhedrin was under the leadership of The Assembly of Jewish Notables. It opened amid great pomp and celebration under the direction of Abraham Furtado. The Sanhedrin was modeled on the ancient Tribunal in Jerusalem and consisted of 71 members – 46 Rabbis and 25 laymen. Rabbi David Sinzheim of Strasburg was its President. They were presented with 12 questions regarding the positions of Jewry regarding polygamy, divorce, usury, other faiths, and most important whether they considered France to be their Fatherland. Needless to say, they received “guidance” from the emperor as to the general formulation of the answers.

5 Adar in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Ze’ev Wolf (Velvele) of Ostracha (also known as Tcharni-Ostraa) (1823). He was a close student of Rav Dov Ber (the Maggid) of Mezritch and Rav Pinchas of Koritz.

Thereafter, he became a follower of Rav Meshulam Feivish of Zhebariza, the Yosher Divrei Emes. He married the daughter of Reb Zushe of Hanipoli. Three years after the petira of the Yosher Divrei Emes, he made aliya (in 1798) and settled in Teveriya.

When a person considers the lowly state one exists in without faith, a person who has purified their soul will be drawn to the substance of the ideal that in truth is the only path for an upright person to be drawn to.

At that time, he will find a strong desire for faith, and the exalted enjoyment, the light of God, will enliven him.

He will want to color his life with the acts and the external practices, which are fitting for the internal and ideal desire. On his own, he will make vows and accept commitments, and all the more so will be pleased with the all of the general vows, which are the inheritance of our fathers.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

2 February in History

In 1790, the United States Supreme Court meets for the first time. It would be one hundred and twenty six years before a Jewish jurist would be named to the High Court. By the second decade of the 21st century, 3 of the 9 justices were Jewish.

28 Shevat in History

On Shevat 28 (134 BCE?), Antiochus V abandoned his siege of Jerusalem and his plans for the city’s destruction. This day was observed as a holiday in Hashmonean times.

A person who is lost is a heretic, since they are not connected to the ideal of life, they no longer have they ability to drink in the radiance of the idea, and their life is worse then the life of an animal.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

26 January in History

In 1891, today is the birthdate of Ilya G Ehrenburg prolific Russian writer and journalist. Born into a middle class Jewish family living in Kiev, Ehrenburg was able to navigate the treacherous waters of the Soviet Union pursuing his career even during the days of Stalin’s anti-Semitic outbursts and dying peacefully in 1967.

21 Shevat in History

On February 4, 1657, Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, issued the first residence permit to a Jew, Luis Carvajal, since the expulsion of all Jews from England by King Edward I in the year 1290. The edict of expulsion had been officially overturned in the previous year, 1656. The re-admittance of Jews into England was partially due to the efforts of the great scholar Rabbi Menasseh Ben Israel.

When a person, as an individual or a group, pictures faith, and the ways to acquire faith, they may see paths that a full of dross, since they are standing at a low level.

Nevertheless, the ways to acquire faith do not, in any way, effect faith itself.

When a person, or group, raises, they can see paths that are full of joy, and truth, and gladness.  Yet if a person is not at this higher level, these paths seem full of darkness, and burden.

The upright path, is for a person to arrive at a place in their soul, when they find the correct paths on how to clarify faith, and trust with simplicity on the inheritance of our fathers.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

19 January in History

In 1795, the Batavian Republic was proclaimed in the Netherlands bringing to an end the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. The Batavian Republic was a genuine expression of Dutch nationalism but it was also a product of the French Revolution. Following in the path of that revolution, the creation of the Batavian Republic brought total emancipation for the Jews of the Netherlands.

14 Shevat in History

Shevat 14 is the anniversary of the passing of Rabbi Yaakov Yehoshua Falk Katz (1680-1755), author of the Talmudic work “P’nei Yehoshua.” He served as rabbi of Lemberg (Lvov) in 1718, Berlin in 1730, Metz in 1734 and Frankfurt in 1740.

There is an external element of faith that can present itself in a foolish form.  However, the light of God dwells in that form (as well).

There are elements that appear to people as foolish in all matters of nature and reality.  However, the folly only appears due to limited vision which does not grasp the exalted nature in every matter, small and great, simultaneously.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

7 Shevat in History

Chassidic master Rabbi Dovid Biederman of Lelov (1746-1814) was a disciple of the “Seer of Lublin.” Rabbi Dovid was known for his extraordinary ahavat yisrael; it was said of him that he was literally incapable of seeing faults in a fellow Jew. Two printed collections of stories about him are Migdal David and Kodesh Hillulim.

Rabbi Dovid’s main disciple was Rabbi Yitzchak of Vorki, whose son, Yaakov David, founded the Amshinover dynasty of chassidic rebbes.
12 January in History

In 1903, Harry Houdini performed at the Rembrandt Theater in Amsterdam.

If you enjoy this app, please consider a donation to my children’s amazing school, the Torah Day School of Seattle.  Click here to contribute, or go to tdsdinner.com.  Thanks.  Campaign ends 1.30.11.

~~~

Faith is pure when it has no internal compulsion, without any foreign elements.

And even if faith is not fully encompassed in one’s intellect, faith is not restricted.

Never the less, for a person who is graced with intellect, they will not be satisfied without intellectual inquiry, and for such a person the true simplicity of faith will only be established when joined with the light of the intellect.  If such a person finds this intellectual pursuit repugnant, their faith will be filled with dross and bitterness.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

5 January in History

Today in 1826, Maryland put into effect the “Jew Bill” which allowed Jews to hold public office if they believed in Reward and Punishment in the Hereafter. Maryland was founded by Catholics and the Act of Toleration was one of its landmark pieces of colonial legislation.

29 Tevet in History

According to Rabbi Judah (cited in the Talmud, Bava Metzia 106b), Tevet 29 marks the end of winter. (As per Genesis 8:22, the year consists of six 2-month “seasons”: seedtime, harvest, cold, heat, summer and winter.)

 

Faith in its natural state comes with damaging impurities, which are refined in the kiln of ethics and understanding.  Then faith can be revealed in its purity.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

29 December in History

In 1898, Richard J. H. Gottheil, a professor of languages at Columbia University and a leader in the early American Zionist movement gathered together a group of Jewish students from several New York City universities to form a Zionist youth society. The society was called Z.B.T. which most people know as Zeta Beta Tau fraternity.

22 Tevet in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Gedalia Hertz (1914-1977). Born in Ujazd, near Tomashov, Poland, he left for Lubavitcher Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim in Warsaw after his Bar Mitzvah.

After some years, he went to Grodno to the yeshiva of Rav Shimon Shkop. After marrying in 1935, he moverd to eretz Yisrael and entered the Yeshivas Sfas Emes in Yerushalayim. The following year, the Gerrer Rebbe, the Imrei Emes, decided to open a branch in Tel Aviv, which was later named Yesahivas Chidushei Harim; Rav Gedalia was chosen Rosh Yeshiva while still in his early 20s.

After the founding of the state of Israel, he was chosen to be the representative of the Vaad of Yeshivos to government officials and was instrumental in getting Ben Gurian to accept a deference for all yeshiva students. In 1955, Rav Gedalia became the Rav of the newly established “yeshiva’ kehilla in Sydney, Australia. In 1963, he returned to Yisrael.

 

 

 

Faith in its purity is through rejection of all vanity and wickedness.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

22 December in History

In 1696, today is the birthdate of James Oglethorpe, founder of the colony of Georgia. In July, 1733, a month after Georgia was founded by James Oglethorpe, forty Sephardic Jews arrived in Savannah.  A year later German Jews arrived in the colony.” The trustees of the colony wanted to discourage the Jewish settlement.

15 Tevet in History

Today marks the passing of the Amora Mashrisha.  He was the student of Rava and lived in the fourth generation of the Amoraim.  On many occasions, he is reported as having conversed with Rava on matters of Jewish law, and many statements of Rava were taught by Mashrisha.

Faith in its purity is acquired through the possibility of disbelief.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

Reflections:

Does overwhelming evidence convince or crush a person?  Consider the Jews after the Golden Calf.

~~~

15  December in History

Today in 1930, Seventy-five year old Meier Dizengoff sought re-election as Mayor of Tel Aviv in contest that pits him against Laborite Joseph Aronwitz. Dizengoff was one of the original founders of the city in 1909 and is noted for donating his salary to municipal projects not funded by the city.

8 Tevet in History

In a second attempt to translate the Torah into Greek (after an unsuccessful attempt 61 years earlier), the ruling Greek-Egyptian emperor Ptolemy gathered 72 Torah sages, had them sequestered in 72 separate rooms, and ordered them to each produce a translation. On the 8th of Tevet of the year 3515 from creation (246 BCE) they produced 72 corresponding translations, including identical changes in 13 places (where they each felt that a literal translation would constitute a corruption of the Torah’s true meaning). This Greek rendition became known as the Septuagint, “of the seventy” (though later versions that carry this name are not believed to be true to the originals).

Greek became a significant second language among Jews as a result of this translation. During Talmudic times, Tevet 8 was observed by some as a fast day, expressing the fear of the detrimental effect of the translation.

Please consider a donation to the JNF, the U.S. fundraising arm for of Friends of Israel Firefighters, to help with the wildfires raging in the North of Israel.

Donate here

~~~

Faith in God and all its unique spiritual qualities needs to be freed from its deficiencies.  It must stand living, shining, in powerful light, which enlightens the entire world from its glorious shine.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

8 December in History

In 1813, today is the birthdate of August Belmont, the German born financier who “immigrated to New York City in 1837 after becoming the American representative of the Rothschild family’s banking house in Frankfurt.” Belmont carved a niche in American finance and became a leading member of the Democrat Party. Prominent socially, he gave his name to the famed New York racetrack, Belmont Park as well as the third leg of the Triple Crown, “The Belmont Stakes.”

1 Tevet in History

Today, Esther was made Queen to Achashverosh:
“And Esther was taken to King Achashverosh, to his palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tevet, in the seventh year of his reign. And the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won his favor and kindness more than all the virgins; he placed the royal crown on her head and made her queen in Vashti’s stead” (Book of Esther 2:16-17). This set the stage for the miracle of Purim six years later, on the 13th and 14th of Adar of the year 3405 from creation (356 BCE).

Since the clear perception of the world, the light of the future, preceded the world, the world is not ready for it.  Faith remains the only way to access that clear understanding.  This clear understanding is reveled without a full awareness, only percived through spiritual feeling, closed from the eyes, and very fine.  The heart can sense it.  Yet the masses, who are covered with the veil of physicality…

Those with understanding, taste at all time small drops of the exalted pleasantness of the light of the future.  This was founded on the prayer of Moses and the dedication of the Tabernacle, “May the pleasantness of God be on us, the work of our hands establish on us, and the work of our hands, establish.”

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

1 December in History

In 1938, the British Cabinet allows 10,000 unaccompanied Jewish children into Britain in an action called the Kindertransport. (Britain, however, refuses to allow 21,000 more Jewish children into Palestine.) The rescued children come from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia with the help of British, Jewish, and Quaker welfare organizations. Because of the Holocaust, most of the children will never see their parents again, and many of the Jewish children will be converted to Christianity.

24 Kislev in History

In 520 BCE, the first year of rule of Cyrus, the King of Persia, Jews were given permission to return to Israel and rebuild the Holy Temple. A group of Jews led by Zerubavel set out for Jerusalem and began working on the second Temple. However, the Cutheans falsely accused the Jews of plotting a rebellion against King Cyrus and were successful in halting the construction of the Holy Temple for the remainder of his reign and throughout the reign of Ahasuerus, his successor. Construction resumed in the second year of the reign of Darius, Ahasuerus’s son, on the 24th of Kislev.

The world view that be revieled in the future, when the world is renewed and is reveled in its new light, this is in truth the Israeli worldview even today.

Since this world view preceded time, it is not bound by time.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

24 November in History

In 1884, today is the birthdate of Yitzchak Ben-Zvi, the second President of Israel. After the death of Chaim Weitzman, Ben-Zvi was elected in 1952. He served until his death in April of 1963.

17 Kislev in History

In 348 BC, on this day, Ezra the Scribe went up to the Holy Temple and fasted, prayed, and cried in public. While he prayed and confessed, weeping and prostrating himself in front of the Temple, a large assemblage of men, women, and children gathered around him.

At that time, all of the assembled priests and Israelites swore to send away their non-Jewish wives. Ezra then issued a proclamation that all Jews residing in Israel should assemble in three days’ time in Jerusalem

 

For a Jewish unfaithful, even if they pronounce light headed words and of disbelief, in the midst of their soul is the light of God, and clinging and thirsting for the living God, the God of Israel; even to the extent that such a person would be willing to die for God.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

17 November in History

In 2001, Daniel Saul Goldin finishes serving as Adminstrator of NASA. Goldin was the first Jew to hold the post. He held the position longer than any of his predecessors, serving under three different Presidents.

10 Kislev in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer (1870-1954), author of Even HaEzel, rosh yeshiva of Slutsk and Eitz Chaim-Yerushalayim, disciple of Netziv, Rav Chaim Soloveitchik, and the Chafetz Chaim. Father-in-law of Rav Aharon Kotler, and uncle of Rav Shach.His wife was descended from Rav Meir Eisenstadt, author of Ponim Meiros.

Both Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer and Rav Moshe Mordechai married daughters of Reb Shraga Frank, one of the wealthiest men in Kovno, and in whose attic Rav Yisrael Salanter began teaching mussar to Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel and Rav Yitzchak Blazer.

The great faith that is in the heart of Israel, has no example and no parable.  Even the ‘non-believers’ of Israel are filled with faith and holiness, so much more than all other nations.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

10 November in History

In 1509, Emperor Maximilien issued a second mandate reproaching the Jews of Frankfort for disobeying his first edict and ordering the confiscation of the their holy books to continue.

3 Kislev in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Yaakov Moshe Kulefsky (1921-2000). Born in St. Louis, he learned at Torah Vadaas in his early 20s, while serving in the army. He married Sarah Gartenhaus in 1950 and joined Yeshiva Ner Israel in 1954. He became Rosh yeshiva and replaced Rav Yaakov Weinberg after the latter’s passing.

Rav Kulefsky left two sons (Tzvi Hirsch and Nosson) and three daughters [Esther Chana (Abraham), Ettie (Rosenbaum), and Faigi (Gruman)], 40 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.

When the greatest faith shines on the soul, the entire world is filled with light; a tremendous, inclusive capability,  the great light that shines on the soul of those who are holy to God, clinging to the Life of all the worlds.

Just as capability and limited strength appear at the beginning of one’s picture of holiness, so it grows and raises in the intelect and in action until: “You will decree, and it will be established for you; light will shine on your ways.” (Job 22:28)

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

3 November in History

In 1604, today was the birthdate of Osman II, a Sultan who reigned during the 17th century which was a period of decline for the Ottoman Empire and its Jewish subjects. Unlike many of his predecessors, it appears that Osman did not employ an Jews as court physicians or close advisors.

26 Cheshvan in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Raphael Hoken of Hamburg (1723-1803). Born in Liphland to Rav Yekusiel Ziskind, the Rav of the town, Reb Raphael was taken to learn with the Shaagas Aryeh (the great Torah scholar), a relative of theirs, in Minsk, at the age of 12.

At the age of 19, Rav Raphael replaced his rebbi as Rosh Yeshiva in Minsk. Four years later, he was chosen as Rav of Rakow, and later of Smilowitz. In 1763, he became Rav in Pinsk. There he wrote Toras Yekusiel on Yoreh Deah, with an appendix of laws pertaining to agunos (married women who have been left by their husbands).

Later he became Rav in Posen, and in 1776 of the three kehillos of Atuna, Hamburg, and Wandsbeck (AH”U). He also authored Sheilos Hakohanim Torah on the service the priests served in the Temple, Sh’Ut Veshav Hakohen, Mapei Lahon on the prohibition of slander, and Daas Kedoshim.

 

 

Inner piety includes natural faith.  The light of God that rings in the soul by itself, without the shinning light of Torah and tradition from our ancestors.  The tradition of faith accompanies the exalted light of faith, guards it from errors and helps it keep its way.  “Your words are a candle to my feet; a light to my path” (Psalms 119:105).

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

27 October in History

In 1937, as the Arab violence against the Jews continued The Palestine Post reported that a Jew and an Arab constable were killed when some 15 Arab terrorists ambushed a six-truck convoy carrying 21 Jewish laborers from the Palestine Potash concession on the Dead Sea back to Jerusalem. A number of policemen were injured in various shooting incidents, reported throughout the country, and in particular in Safed where the Jewish community was almost under siege.

19 Cheshvan in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Avraham Tzvi Hirsch Kamai, the last Rav of Mir (1859-1942). Born in the Lithuanian town of Shkod, his family traced its ancestry back to the brother of the Vilna Gaon, Rav Avraham, author of Maalos Hatorah.

His father was Rav Eliyahu Baruch Kamai, who served as Rav of of the communities of Shkod, Karelitz and Czechnovtza, following which he served as rov of Mir and as head of the town’s yeshiva. His Torah thoughts were published in Bris Melach.

Rav Tzvi Hirsch’s wife, who was a clever and highly-educated woman, opened a pharmacy in order to support the family. Rav Tzvi Hirsch assisted her from time to time when she needed help, and he would also prepare medicines for the customers according to the prescriptions that they brought. With his father’s passing, however, he replaced as Rav and Rosh Yeshiva in Mir.

Thank you to everyone for you wishes and blessings. Thank God I am feeling better.

~~~

Natural faith, with natural strength and its songs of courage, need to return and be planted in field that is blessed by God, and is founded on Torah, so that is all becomes faith of Torah.

Then, all of the strength and courage will be refined and exalted, and will stand to be always elevated in purity and refinement.

That strength and courage will then be doubled through the purity and clarity that comes when Godliness walks and rings on the foundation of faith, through free will, the light of the Torah of God always “restores the soul.”

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

20 October in History

In 1781 BCE, the Holy Roman Emperor, Joseph II of Austria issued the Patent of Toleration which was an edict extending to religious freedom to non-Catholic Christians living in the Habsburg Empire. The Jews would have to wait another year. In 1782 Joseph II issued the Patent of Toleration for the Jews of Lower Austria, thereby establishing the civic equality of his Jewish subjects.

12 Cheshvan in History

Yitzhak Rabin, Commander-in-Chief of the IDF during the Six Day War and later Prime Minister of Israel, was assassinated on this date in 5756 (1995).

The monument marking the site of the assassination

On a personal note, Israeli friends tried to explain to me what this loss was to them: it was a loss of innocence.  Until that time, Israeli citizens could expect to walk up to the PM and have a conversation.  After the assassination, that innocence, and so much more, was lost.

In all intellectual pursuits, in all religious philosophies, we see only an expansion of the inner point of faith. Clear, natural awe of heaven, in order to expand its natural boundaries, to open the power that is stored in it, requires many branches of study: actions and introspection, intellect and emotions.

Therefore, this is what the success of these pursuits depend on: that they be well connected to the living, natural point of faith in the soul of a person, which lightens the courageous souls of Israel in particular; this is the holy point of faith in God, the true foundation for awe of heaven. It is to this inner point of faith, in this inner drive, with alive and clear feeling, majestic and focused by all the strongest laws of life, that all the soul, with all its feelings, powers, ways, inclinations, be tied and clung with it.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~
13 October in History

In 1796, censorship of Jewish books in Russia became official policy today

In 1843, B’nai Brith was founded under the leadership of Henry Jones at Sinsheimer’s cafe on Essex Street in New York. Its original mission was the maintenance of orphanages and homes for the elderly and widows. It extended its work to many spheres of American Jewish life, including combating anti-Semitism. (A.D.L.) and working with students on campus (Hillel).

5 Cheshvan in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Moshe Birdogo, son of Rav Avraham. Rav Moshe resided in western Morocco and was known as the Rosh Mashbir (1730)

Faith in God is the ground from which all good in life grows, just as the nature of ground is to make the possessor of it wealthy, so does faith act as the bottom wrung from which all good grows.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

6 October in History

In 1943, Helen Manaster, a Jew posing as a Catholic, is called out of the delivery room in the Kraków, Poland, hospital while in the throes labor pains to face two Gestapo agents. She keeps her calm and the Gestapo agents tell her to go back to bed.

28 Tishrei in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Shmuel Landau of Prague, second son of the Noda BeYehuda in 1837.

Faith in God is the most exalted thought. It is so primal, it can be found at all levels, even the lowest and most crass. Yet, at every level, faith in God sheds light, according to the level.

Those who wish to become wise, who try to step up to the “small of faith” level, from the most crass and dark, lift and jump themselves up. Yet, this level of faith does not yet make sense to them. The “small of faith” level is not yet ready for them, yet they are not able to stay at the lower level. They are wound in a sling shot of contradictory ideas, until their help comes, from its holy place.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

On September 16, 1910, the Jews of Salonica compel editors of a Turkish paper that published anti-Semitic remarks to send a public retraction to every Turkish journal.

In 1977, Moshe Dayan returned to Morocco where he met with the Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister, Hassan Tuhami. Tuhami made it clear that Sadat was prepared to negotiate directly with Israel, that he did not insist on a conference with other Arab States and that he would accept an Israeli withdrawal from Sinai in return for a peace treaty. Sadat would not require settlement of any other issues as condition to signing the peace treaty. This meeting set the stage for the Camp David negotiations that would take place in the following year.

On 8 Tishrei, the 14-day dedication festivities, celebrating the completion of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem built by King Solomon, commenced on the 8th of Tishrei of the year 2935 from creation (826 BCE). The First Temple served as the epicenter of Jewish national and spiritual life for 410 year, until its destruction by the Babylonians in 423 BCE.

For a person who has the light of faith shine on himself in all its purity, such a person loves all of creation with an unmeasurable love.

All that such a person sees are ways for humanity to be exalted and corrected; the pathways for this correction are filled with ethics and are upright, in proportion with the degree faith appears in his heart.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

25 August in History

In 1530, today was the birthdate of Tsar Ivan IV, known to history as Ivan the Terrible. In keeping with Russian policy, few Jews were permitted in Russia and those that came on trading missions from Poland were often treated roughly. In 1563 Ivan conquered a Lithuanian city (Polotsk) and gave the Jews the choice of converting to Russian Orthodoxy or death. In carrying out his threat, Ivan had holes drilled in the ice of the nearby river and shoved three hundred Jewish men, women and children to their death.

15 Elul in History

Today marks the passing of Rabbi Akiva Eger, in 1837. He was a scholar and expert in matters of Jewish law. His opinions are weighted heavily in deciding matters of Jewsih law.

He was born with the last name Guns. As a child prodigy, he studied with his uncle, Rabbi Wolf Eger, who’s surname he adopted out of respect.

All clarity comes from faith. Faith is a combination, at its beginning, of fear and love. The soul, in its inner recesses, senses that faith, fear, and love at their foundation only turn to the concept of God. And all differences in these traits only shift based on the Godly spark that is reaching the soul.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

18 August in History

In 1856, birthdate of Asher Zvi Hirsch Ginsberg who gained fame using the Hebrew pan name Ahad Ha’am (אחד העם‎,). A pre-eminent essayist he was the founder of Cultural Zionism with a vision of a Jewish “spiritual center” in Palestine. Ha’am strived for “a Jewish state and not merely a state of Jews.”

8 Elul in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Chisdai ben Shmuel HaKohen Perachia (1678). He was the author of responsa called Toras Chessed. He died in Salonika (then Turkey, now Greece).

Education, in it’s common meaning, begins when the child reaches a certain degree of awareness. Education of the natural world begins when a child enters the air of the world; and education of faith starts when the child is formed, “Sanctify yourselves, and you will be holy.”

Rav Avraham Yitchak HaKohen Kook
El-HaMidot
Emunah

~~~

11 August in History

In 1840, Lord Palmerston the British Foreign Secretary wrote a letter to the ambassador in Constantinople that said, “There exists…among the Jews…a strong notion that the time is approaching when their nation is to return to Palestine…. I instruct you… to strongly recommend that the Turkish Government … encourage the Jews of Europe to return to Palestine.” Palmerston was not philo-Semite or a proto-Zionist. Rather he was an English statesmen looking to bring what he considered Western civilization to the Orient.

1 Elul in History

On the early morning of the 1st of Elul of the year 2448 from creation (1313 BCE) Moses ascended Mount Sinai, taking with him the stone tablets he had hewn by divine command, for God to re-inscribe the Ten Commandments. On the mountain, G-d taught Moses the “Thirteen Attributes of Mercy” (Exodus 33:18-34:8).

Moses remained on the mountain for 40 days, until the 10th of Tishrei (Yom Kippur), during which time He obtained God’s forgiveness and reconciliation with the people of Israel following their betrayal of the covenant between them with their worship of the Golden Calf. This was the third of Moses’ three 40-day periods on Mount Sinai in connection with the Giving of the Torah. Ever since, the month of Elul serves as the “month of Divine mercy and forgiveness.”

Who is able to stop the exalted Godly love, which moves and pulsates in the hearts of the remnant, the pious, the holy, the upright of heart.

Like a clear wind full of the spices of Aden, and with this raging and bustling, like the sea rages its waves, the soul rages from expansive pleasure, shining with exalted pleasantness. This pleasure of pleasures magnifies and expands all of one’s spiritual capabilities, and emotional traits: the entire soul is sanctified.

Anyone who has even a distant contact with this pleasant light of the souls of these holy ones, the mighty ones of God, is elevated.

All of the Torah, ethics, commandments, acts and study, are introduced to clear the stumbling blocks along the path, so this love of all the world is able to spread out, to expand to every village in life, in all of their roads.

The many branches of the roots of this love are also the holy of the holiest. They are all the good traits, upright in particular and in general, individual and societal, in order to judge the earth in righteousness, and nations with upright [judgements].

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook

El-HaMidot
Ahava

~~~

4 August in History

The Hasmoneans reinstated the rule of Jewish civil law, replacing Hellenist secular law, and declared this day a holiday.

24 Av in History

The Hasmoneans reinstated the rule of Jewish civil law, replacing Hellenist secular law, and declared this day a holiday.

You need to instruct yourself to love creation, and in particular the exalted groups of humanity: the sages, the mighty, the poets, the artists, and the doers. You need to recognize the good light that is found among the aforementioned people; through these people the light of God is spread into the world, whether they recognize the degree that they were sent, or whether they do not recognize it.

Rav Avraham Yitchak HaKohen Kook

El-HaMidot
Ahava

~~~

28 July in History

In 1586, the first potato arrives in Britain. Since the potato is indigenous to Peru and Bolivia this date means that European Jews could not have enjoyed such delicacies as Latkes and Potato Knishes until at least the 17th century.

17 Av in History

In 1929, 67 Jewish men, women and children were slaughtered, and scores wounded, raped and maimed, by their Arab neighbors in the city of Hebron, who rioted for three days amid cries of “Slaughter the Jews.” The survivors fled to Jerusalem, and the ancient Jewish community of Hebron, which had lived in relative peace in the city for hundreds of years, was not revived until after Israel’s capture of Hebron in the 1967 Six Day war.

Love of all of creation requires extensive involvement, to expand it appropriately, and not to be a superficial idea… To have this love fill all places of the soul at all times. It is appropriate to ponder the opinions of other nations and different groups, to the extent possible, in order to have a solid foundation to be able to love them in a way that will benefit them.

It is only in a rich soul, filled with love of creation and love of humanity can love for a nation exist in its exalted state in a spiritual and practical element.

The narrow-mindedness, which causes people to see that which is outside of a specific nation, even if it is outside of Israel, as only disgusting and impure, is one of the greatest darkening forces that causes general destruction to the spiritual structure of good, which all pleasant souls await for its light.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook

El-HaMidot
Ahava

~~~

21 July in History

In 1816, birthdate of Paul Julius Reuter. Born Israel Beer Josaphat, he changed his name to Reuter and converted in 1844. He founded what would become Reuter’s news agency in 1849. He used carrier pigeons to carry financial news to those parts of Germany, France and Belgium not yet served by telegraph. He opened his own telegraph service in England where he lived the rest of his life and died in 1899. He converted for the same reason so many other German and Austrian Jews did – it was the only way to advance in the worlds of commerce and art.

10 Av in History

In 2005, more than 8,500 Jewish residents were forcefully expelled from their homes in 25 towns and settlements in the Gaza Strip (including 16 settlements in the flourishing “Gush Katif” belt) and Northern Shomron in the summer of 2005, as part of the Israeli government’s ill-fated “Disengagement Plan.”

Av 10 was the deadline set by the governments for all Jews to leave their homes in these areas. Two days later, tens of thousands of soldiers and police officers began the forceful removal of the thousands who refused to leave willingly. The removal of all Jewish residents from Gush Katif and the Gaza Strip was completed by Av 17, and from Northern Samaria a day later. The army completed its withdrawal from these areas on the 8th of Elul, after bulldozing all the hundreds of homes and civic buildings in the settlements. The Jewish dead were disinterred and removed from the cemeteries. Only the synagogues were left standing.

The government’s hopes that the “disengagement” would open “new opportunities” in relations with the Palestinian Arabs were bitterly disappointed. No sooner had the last Israeli soldiers departed from the Gaza Strip that Arab mobs began looting, desecrating and tourching the synagogues. The vacated settlements became the staging grounds for terrorist attacks against Israel, including the unremitting rocket fire on the nearby Israeli town of Sederot and the cities and settlements of the Western Negev.

A lowly person is allowed to be hated only for their limitations, but from the perspective of their being created in the image of God, it is worthy to love them; especially since the reality of their true measure is more internal than the existence of their limitations.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook

El-HaMidot
Ahava

~~

14 July in History

In 1904, birthdate of Yiddish novelist, Isaac Bashevis Singer. Singer, author of many volumes including Enemies and Yentel won the Nobel Prize in 1978. He passed away in 1991.

3 Av in History

Rav Shmuel Bornstein (also known as Shmuel Salir), author of Shem Mishmuel and Rebbe of Sochaczev (Sochochow) (1855-1927). He was the son of the Avnei Nezer.

On occasion, one’s love for creation encompasses everything, even that which is evil. Yet this does not diminish how much hatred one has for evil, on the contrary: it strengthens it. Certainly, it is not the evil element found within the evil people that one is in love with. It is the the good elements that can be found within the evil people that one is in love with. This leaves the evil element on its own, clearly identified for your hatred of that which is evil.

Rav Avrahaham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook

Al-HaMidot
Ahava

~~~

7 July in History

Today is the birthdate of artist Marc Chagall (1887).  Born Moishe Zakharovich Shagalov (Moishe Segal) in Belarus (then part of the Russian Empire), Chagall‘s life lasted almost one hundred years. He developed his art against a backdrop of World War I, the Russian Revolution and its Stalinist aftermath, Paris during the thirties, the Holocaust and the birth of the state of Israel.
Born Moishe Zakharovich Shagalov (Moishe Segal) in Belarus (then part of the Russian Empire), Chagall‘s life lasted almost one hundred years. He developed his art against a backdrop of World War I, the Russian Revolution and its Stalinist aftermath, Paris during the thirties, the Holocaust and the birth of the state of Israel.

25 Tammuz in History

Rabbi Aharon Berachia ben Moshe of Modina (? – 1639) was an Italian Kabbalist and a student of Rabbi Menachem Azariah of Fano. At the request of the Burial Society at Mantua, he instituted rites for them. The author of many Kabbalistic works, he is perhaps best known for his work Ma’abar Yabbok, which contains mystical dissertations on purity and holiness. He also wrote additional prayers to be offered for the sick and the dead, as well as a code of conduct for their treatment. Many of the prayers recited at the gravesites of the deceased were composed by him.

When one encounters reasons to refrain, or elements that seem to contradict, love, whether those reasons come from the world, or from the Torah, they must be refined until they reach the exalted place of Godly Love: He created all of creation; He sustains all of creation at every moment.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
Al HaMidot
Ahava

~~~

30 June in History

In 1838, the Swedish government abolished discrimination against Jews. Unfortunately due to public objections it was repealed. Another 30 years were to pass before Jews were given the right to vote.

18 Tammuz in History

In 1313 BCE, Moses destroyed the Golden Calf, and re-ascended Mount Sinai to plead to God for forgiveness for the Jewish people.

The quality of love that lives in the heart of the righteous includes all of creation, and does not exclude any nation or people. Even Amalek is only “erased from under the heaven” but the refining it too can return to its good source, which is higher than the heavens, and is included in the exalted love for everything.

Yet, it requires great power and purity for this unification.

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
Ahava
Al-HaMidot

~~~

23 June 2010

An incident, known as the Mortara Affair, began in Bologna, 1858. Edgardo Mortara, a seven year old Jewish boy, was kidnapped by the Roman Catholic Church on the pretext that a servant girl claimed that she had baptized him. The pope, Pious IX, refused to surrender him despite many protests. The combination of the Damascus affair and this affair led to unification among many Jews and later to the establishment of the Alliance Israelite.

Listen

On Love

The flames of the holy fire of love for God are always burning inside the soul. They heat the spirit and give clarity to life. There is no end of pleasure to those who enjoy it.

But how cruel can a person be to themselves, that they sink into physicality, thinking of the many calculations as to what they should do, but the real substance of living life, the fundamental pleasure, they have forgotten from their heart… a person continues on this path, which is against nature, the nature of the soul and the nature of all of existence.

The kindness of the Exalted One is destined to break through, and the holiness will create paths to pour pleasure in all of its colors, in its full exaltedness. “God, beside you, the eye has not seen that which you will do for those who hope to You” (Is. 34:3).

Rav Avraham Yitschak HaKohen Kook
Al HaMidot
Ahava

~~~

9 June in History

1931, Birthday of comedian Jackie Mason. In addition to being a famed comedian, he is also one of the founders of an organization called One Jerusalem, which has the stated mission of “maintaining a united Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel”.

27 Sivan in History

Rabbi Chananya ben Tradyon, one of the “Ten Martyrs” was killed on this date. When the Romans discovered him teaching the outlawed Torah they wrapped him in a Torah scroll, piled bundles of twigs around him, and before setting him afire they placed damp woolen cloths on him to prolong the agony of being burned to death.

As the flames engulfed him, his disciples asked him, “Master, what do you see?” Rabbi Chananya replied: “I see a scroll burning, but the letters flying up to Heaven.

Listen


On Love

It is impossible to not love God; it is impossible to not grow from the power of this sweet love actual deeds, to love, to act, and to act on behalf of all that is connected to the light of God.

It is impossible to not love the Torah and commandments; they are so tied with God’s goodness. It is impossible to not love that which is upright and righteous… It is impossible to not be filled with love for all of creation, since God’s light shines on everything. Everything is a revelation of the sweetness, the pleasantness, of God. “God’s kindness fills the earth” (Psalms 33:5).

Rav Kook. El HaMidot. Ahava.

~~~

2 June in History

In 1879, as a result of Russian mistreatment of a Jewish American businessmen, the U.S. House of Representatives requested the President to have all international treaties which impair the rights of American citizens because of religion amended to secure equal rights.

20 Sivan in History

Today marks two tragedies, both of which have been upstaged in our national consciousness by worse events. The first, was in 1171, in Blois France 34 Jewish men and 17 Jewish women were burned at the stake. They were accused for using blood from Christian babies in preparing Matza. The day was instituted as a fast day by the great medieval sage Rabbinu Tam, who was the grandson of Rashi. However, this tragedy was follow by 150 years of crusades, and the observance of the fast day gradually fell out of practice.

In 1648, six thousand Jews of the city of Neimirov were killed on this day. The fast day was reinstituted, but again was replaced by more recent events. However, many prayer books do have additional supplication prayers to be said on the twentieth of Sivan.

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