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Thursday, October 29, 2020

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Methuselah, the longest-lived human being of all time, died at the age of 969 years on the 11th of Cheshvan of the year 1656 from creation (2105 BCE) -- exactly seven days before the beginning of the Great Flood. Methuselah was Adam's great-great-great-great-great-grandson and Noah's grandfather.

The matriarch Rachel died in childbirth on the 11th of Cheshvan of the year 2208 from creation (1553 BCE) while giving birth to her second son, Benjamin.

Rachel was born in Aram (Mesopotamia) approximately 1585 BCE. Her father was Laban, the brother of Jacob's mother, Rebecca. Jacob came to Laban's home in 1576 BCE, fleeing the wrath of his brother Esau. He fell in love with Rachel and worked for seven years tending Laban's sheep in return for her hand in marriage. But Laban deceived his nephew, and on the morning after the wedding Jacob discovered that he had married Rachel's elder sister, Leah. Laban agreed to give him Rachel as a wife as well in return for another seven years' labor.

Rachel was childless for many years, while her elder sister and rival gave birth to six sons and a daughter in succession. Finally, in 1562 BCE, she gave birth to Joseph. Nine years later, while Jacob and his family were on the road to Jacob's ancestral home in Hebron (after a 22-year absence), she gave birth to a second son, but died in childbirth. Jacob buried her by the roadside, in Bethlehem; there, "Rachel weeps over her children, for they are gone [in exile]" (Jeremiah 31:14). Her tomb has served as a place of prayer for Jews for more than 35 centuries.

Rabbi Nachum of Chernobyl was a disciple of the second leader of the Chassidic movement, Rabbi DovBer of Mezeritch, and the founder of the Chernobyl dynasty of Chassidic Rebbes.

Daily Thought

When the Divine Light began its awesome descent—a journey of world to lower world for endless worlds, condensing its unbounded state again and again into finite packages until focused to a fine, crystallized resolution—it did so with purpose: to bring forth a world of continuous ascent.

Since that beginning, not a day has passed that does not transcend its yesterday.

Like a mighty river rushing to reach its ocean, no dam can hold it back, no creature can struggle against its current. If we appear to fall backward, to take a wrong turn, to lose a day in failure—it is only an illusion, for we have no map to know its way. We see from within, but the river knows its path from Above. And to that place Above all is drawn.

We are not masters of that river— not of our ultimate destiny, nor of the stops along the way, not even of the direction of our travel. We did not create the river—its flow creates us. It is the blood and soul of our world, its pulse and its warmth.

Yet of one thing we have been given mastery: Not of the journey, but of our role within it.

How soon will we arrive? How complete? How fulfilled? Will we be the spectators? Or simply the props?

Or will we be the heroes?

Iyar 19, 5712, after the seven day period of mourning for his brother.