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Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Hashmonean King Alexander-Yannai (Jannaeus), an avowed enemy of the Jewish sages, died on this date. So great was his cruelty and the ruthlessness with which he persecuted the Sages and those loyal to them (some 50,000 were killed in the years 82-76 BCE), that the day of his death was declared a holiday.

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King Yannai

On this day, Shevat 2 (January 14, 1793), a frenzied mob gathered around the Jewish ghetto of Rome with the intention of setting it on fire. Miraculously, heavy rains began to fall, and it became impossible for the bloodthirsty horde to carry out their plans, thus saving the homes and lives of the Jews from destruction. Every year, that day, also known as Moed di Piombo (“Holiday of Gray [Clouds]”), has been celebrated as a day of thanksgiving by the Jews of Rome.

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Other "Purims"

Shevat 2 is the yahrtzeit (anniversary of the passing) of Chassidic Master Rabbi Meshulam Zusha of Anipoli (1718?-1800), a disciple of the 2nd leader of the Chassidic movement, Rabbi DovBer of Mezeritch.

Despite Rabbi Zusha's erudition and great piety, he was distinguished by his self-effacement and simple ways. A characteristic saying of his goes: "If it were offered to me to exchange places with Abraham our Father, I would refuse. What would G-d gain from this? He'd still have one Zusha and one Abraham..." His colleagues said of him that he was literally incapable of seeing anything negative in a fellow Jew.

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More about Rabbi Zusha

Daily Thought

“…and if the Holy One, blessed be He, did not take us out of Egypt, we and our children and our children’s children would be slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt.” (The Haggadah)

The Exodus did not happen once. It reoccurs at every moment.

At every moment, you have a choice.

You can continue as just another speck of nature, trapped within its relentless current.

Or you can allow the One Above to pick you up from there and carry you close to Him, above and beyond all things.

Why must it repeat itself at every moment?

Because the natural world is recreated at every moment. And this miracle, this bond you have with the One Above, this has nothing to do with the natural world. It’s not in the program.

Indeed, if you are a Jew, by the natural order of things, you should still be a slave to Pharaoh in Egypt.

So that at every moment, the world is created again, including you within it. And, naturally, you find yourself sliding back into slavery, surrendering yourself to the meaningless drudge of Pharaoh’s work projects.

Only that, at the same moment, the One who created this world stretches out His hand to lift you out of there and beyond all things.

And all you need to do is say, “Yes.”

“Yes, I want to keep your mitzvahs. Yes, I will be one with You.”

Shemini, 5724.