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He who has not seen the building of the Second Temple, has not seen a handsome building in his life.

Which time of the Second Temple?  It means the building of Herod.

Of what materials was it built? Said Rabba: Of black and white marble; and according to others, of other colors also. He made one tier of stones projecting outward, and one tier of stones remaining inside. He wished to overlay it with gold, but the sages said to him: Leave it so, because it is more beautiful, having the appearance of waves of the sea.

Sukkah Chapter 5

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12 December in History

In 1925, the Majlis of Iran votes to crown Reza Khan as the new Shah of Persia. The new Shah removed “removed restrictions on Jews and other religious minorities.’ He prohibited the mass conversion of Jews and “Jews were allowed to hold government jobs.” But the Shah’s sympathetic view of Nazi Germany, along with an under-current of anti-Jewish sentiment, left the community with a sense of discomfort.

5 Tevet in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Shlomo Molcho (1500-1532). Born in Lisbon, Portugal, a descendant of Portuguese Marranos. He published 22 essays on the topic of redemption according to the secrets of Kabbalah in his work, Sefer Hamefoar.

He met with the Pope and asked him to stop the campaign against the Marranos. He also met Rabbi Yossef Karo in Tzfat and the Kabbalist Rabbi Yosef Taitzik of Salonica who taught R’ Molcho Kabbalah.

His speeches inspired many Marranos to publicly return to their faith. Arrested by the officers of the Inquisition, he recited Shema with great joy as he was burned at the stake by Roman Emperor Charles V in Mantua, Italy.

A person who has not witnessed the rejoicings at the water-drawing ceremony during the festival of Sukkot, throughout the whole of his life, witnessed no real rejoicing.

Sukkah Chapter 5

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7 December in History

In 1941, the Japanese warplanes attacked the home base of the U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, an act that led to America’s entry into World War II. Approximately 500,000 Jews served during World War II. This was about ten per cent of the Jewish Population in the United States, which would have made it higher than the average for other ethnic groups.

30 Kislev in History

Today is the sixth day of Chanukah, and the first day of two days of the New Month festival (Rosh Chodesh) for the month of Tevet.

Today marks the passing of Rav Tzvi Yehuda (Hashi) Friedman (1925-2005). Born in Pressburg, Hungary, Reb Hashi was a descendant of the Chasam Sofer, whose youngest daughter, Rechel, married Reb Tzvi Yehuda Friedman from Topolcany.

In 1944, he was sent to Aushwitz and marched the Death March to Gleiwitz and was transported to Buchenwald. Although his entire family was murdered, he lived another 60 years. He emigrated to Montreal in 1951 and moved to Toronto in 1970. His life was filled with Torah and welcoming guests.

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

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The music that was performed when offering sacrifices is a religious service, and does supersede the Sabbath.

Sukkah Chapter 5

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6 December in History

In 1896, today was the birthdate of Ira Gershwin. The brother of George Gershwin, Ira carved out his own career as a lyricist for Broadway and Hollywood musicals. He passed away in 1983.

29 Kislev in History

Today marks the passing of Rav Gedalia of Linitz, author of Teshuos Chein (1803). Son of Rav Yitzchak, he was a disciple of the Magid of Mezritch. Rebbe Nachman said about Rav Gedalya of Linitz that he was foremost in the bringing of people to repentance in that generation, even though he never gave lectures and only sat and learned all day.

In the days of the Temple, the Lulav was used in the Temple all the seven days of the festival.  In the rest of the land of Israel the Lulav was only used one day. When the Temple was destroyed, R. Johanan b. Zakkai decreed, “Everywhere, the Lulav should be used all the seven days, in memory of the Temple.”

What is the source that teaches that actions must be done in memory of the Temple?  We infer it from Jeremiah’s lament, when he says, “This is Zion, whom no one seeks after” (Jeremiah 30:17).  From this we learn that we should seek after her.

Sukkah Chapter 3

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31 October in History

In 1571, Luther posted 95 theses on Wittenberg church starting the Protestant Reformation. From the point of view of Jewish history it is ironic that Luther took his action on Halloween, the holiday known for trick or treat. In his battle with the Pope, Luther sought to gain the support of the Jews. He publicly admitted that Christians had ill-treated the Jews and it was time to change. He believed that once the Jews experienced Christian love, Jews would embrace his version of Christianity en masse. When the Jews refused to convert, Luther turned on them and became a virulent anti-Semite. At the same time, the Jews would become the unwitting victims as the Protestants and Catholics engaged in a variety of religious wars that would consume Europe for the next one hundred years.

23 Cheshvan in History

In Talmudic times, Cheshvan 23 was a Hasmonian holiday that commemorated the day on which the stones of the altar which were defiled by the Greeks were removed from the Holy Temple.

Aggadah

When the Priests, Levites, and Israelites would leave the Temple, they would turn their backs towards the door and their faces towards the Alter.

And so too when a student leaves the teacher.

Yoma Chapter 5

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28 June in History

Former President James Madison passed away (1836). Madison worked with his mentor Thomas Jefferson to ensure freedom of religion in the state of Virginia in the years between the Revolution and the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Madison played in a key role in the ratification of the first ten amendments of the Constitution known as the Bill of Rights. The first of those amendments guaranteed the separation of church and state. Madison was the first President to appoint a Jew to a U.S. diplomatic post.

16 Tammuz in History

In the year 2448 from Creation (1313 BCE), Tammuz 16 was the 40th day following the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, and the people of Israel wrongly expected Moses’ return from the mountain (he would actually return on the following day). When their leader failed to return, they demanded from Aaron: “Make us a god that shall go before us”. Hur (Moses’ nephew, the son of Miriam and Caleb) tried to stop them and was killed by the mob. Aaron fashioned a calf of molten gold.

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