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It was said of Hillel the Elder the Prince: When he rejoiced at the drawing of the water, he used to say, “If I am here, all are here; but if I am not here, who is here?”

Sukkah Chapter 5


28 Tevet in History

According to sources cited in Seder Hadorot, Tevet 28 is both the birthday and the day of passing of Shimon the son of Jacob; other sources place the date as Tevet 21 (1564-1447 BCE).

4 January in History

In 1943, armed with only one gun and knife members of the Jewish Fighting Organization at Czestochowa resisted a ‘selection.’ As a reprisal, the Germans shot 25 men. Czestochowa is a town in Poland famous for the “Black Madonna” and is scene of annual religious pilgrimages. Sometimes, the Jewish view is a little different than the non-Jewish view of places and events.

From the Mishnah:
“A sick person is fed on Yom Kippur according to the decision of a medical doctor”

Rabbi Yanai said, “When a sick person says, ‘I must eat,’ and the physician says he does not need to eat, the patient is obeyed. Why? Because it is written [Prov. xiv. 10]: “The heart knows its own bitterness.'”

Is this not self-evident? No, it is not, since we might think the physician has a better comprehension of the patient’s needs.

What if the case is reversed? Then the physician is obeyed, because the patient only wishes he does not need to eat.

Yoma Chapter 8


16 August in History

In 1933, three hundred Polish Jews including a group of 140 chalutzim leave for Palestine.

6 Elul in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Gershon Shaul Yom Tov Lipman Heller (1579-1654). Born several days after the death of his father, Nosson, he was raised by his grandfather, Moshe Wallerstein HaLevi Heller in Vienna. At the age of 13, he was sent to study in Prague with the MaHaRaL. At 18, he was appointed to the MaHaRaL’s judicial court in Prague, a position he held for 27 years. In 1622, he left Prague for Nicholsburg where he served as Rav and Av Beis Din. However, after 6 months he was called to serve in Vienna, as Av Beis Din.

In 1627, he was chosen to head the Beis Din of Prague. However, after only 6 months, he was imprisoned for 40 days after which he was released penniless. He was forbidden to practice his profession as well. By 1630 the ban was lifted and in 1631, he was asked to take a position in Nimerov. In 1634 he was elected rabbi in Ludmir where he remained for a total of 7 years.

In 1641 he became Av Beis Din and Rav of the Jewish community in Crakow where he died 13 years later. He is buried in the Crakow cemetery along the fence in the area devoted to the poor and the needy.

In addition to his famous Tosefos Yom Tov, one of the most important commentaries on Misha, he authored the Sefer “Tzuras HaBayis,” a detailed explanation of Rashi’s view of the Third Temple as described by Ezekiel (chapters 40-43).

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November 2020