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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


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.

Rabbi Eliezer says, “Based on the verse, ‘These are the generations (or offspring) of heaven and earth when they were created’ (Gen 2) we can infer that everything that is of the heavens, such as the sun, moon, and starts, were created from the heavens, and everything that is of the earth was created from the earth.”

But the Sages say, “Everything that is of the land, and everything that is of the heavens, was created from Zion, as the verse states, ‘From Zion, the perfection of beauty’ (Ps. 50:1) meaning, the beauty of the entire world is from Zion.”

Yoma Chapter 5


29 June in History

In 1942, A 13-year-old girl in Amsterdam who would gain fame as Anne Frank wrote in the diary which she had received as a birthday present only eight days before, “I want to write, but, more than that, I want to bring out all kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart.”

17 Tammuz in History

The Talmud (Taanit 28b) identifies five tragic events that happen on the 17th of Tammuz:

In 1313 BCE:
Moses descended from Mt. Sinai and saw a portion of the Jewish people serving the Golden Calf. He then smashed the Tablets which had the Ten Commandments.

In 423 BCE:
The daily sacrificial offerings (Korban Tamid) in the Holy Temple were discontinued, three weeks before the Babylonians’ destruction of the First Temple in 423 BCE

In 69 CE:
–The walls of the besieged city of Jerusalem were breached.

–The Roman general Apostomus burned the Torah and,

–placed an idol in the Holy Temple.

The fighting in Jerusalem continued for three weeks until the 9th of Av, when the Holy Temple was set aflame.

It is for these reasons that the 17th of Tammuz is observed as a fast day, dedicated to praying and repentance.

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November 2020