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Thursday, January 26, 2023

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Rabbi Abraham of Kalisk (1741-1810) was a controversial figure in the 3rd generation of Chassidic leaders. In his youth, he was a study partner of Rabbi Elijah "the Gaon of Vilna," who led the initial opposition against Chassidism; but later Rabbi Abraham himself joined the the forbidden kat ("sect," as the Chassidic movement was derisively called by its opponents) and became a disciple of Rabbi DovBer, the Maggid of Mezeritch, the successor to Chassidism's founder, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov. After Rabbi DovBer's passing in 1772, much of the opposition to Chassidism was directed against Rabbi Abraham's disciples, who, more than any other group within the movement, mocked the intellectual elitism of the establishment's scholars and communal leaders; even Rabbi Abraham's own colleagues were dismayed by the "antics" of some of his disciples. In 1777, Rabbi Abraham joined the first Chassidic "aliyah", in which a group of more than 300 Chassidim led by Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk emigrated to the Holy Land. Rabbi Abraham passed away in Tiberias on the 4th of Shevat of the year 5570 from creation (1810 CE).

Immanent Transcendence

Rabbi Israel Abuchatzera (1890-1984), known as "Baba Sali," was born in Tafillalt, Morocco, to the llustrious Abuchatzera family. From a young age he was renowned as a sage, miracle maker and master kabbalist. In 1964 he moved to the Holy Land, eventually settling in the southern development town he made famous, Netivot. He passed away in 1984 on the 4th of Shevat. His graveside in Netivot has become a holy site visited by thousands annually.

Baba Sali Stories

Daily Thought

You need to escape your Egypt.

Egypt, in Hebrew, is Mitzra’im—meaning “straits.” A tight, narrow place.

Existence, for a human being, is a tight and narrow place. Because we are children of the Infinite, entirely beyond existence. The natural order of time and space is for us a prison.

A mitzvah, on the other hand, is an act of transcendence, a reconnection to the Infinite. A mitzvah strikes a permanent rupture in the restrictions of being.

That is your Exodus. With every mitzvah you do, you are shattering the bonds that enslave you to Egypt, just as when Israel left their bondage to become an eternal people, transcending time.

Are you no longer human? No longer a part of this world? An angel? A divine thought?

No. You remain human, very human. Your mitzvah takes place within time and space, not much unlike any other human activity.

But your life is now a commentary on eternity, every moment a moment that is forever.

In you, the universe transcends itself.