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ב"ה
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Monday, November 2, 2020

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

In the 2nd century before the common era, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks) who, with the collaboration of the Jewish Hellenists, introduced pagan idols into the Holy Temple and set about to forcefully Hellenize the people of Israel. Mattityahu, the son of the High Priest Yochanan, was already an old man when he picked up a sword and raised the flag of revolt in the village of Modiin in the Judean hills. Many rallied under his cry, "Who that is for G-d, come with me!" and resisted and battled the Greeks from their mountain hideouts.

After heading the revolt for one year, Mattityahu died on the 15th of Cheshvan of the year 3622 from creation (139 BCE). His five sons -- the "Macabees" Judah, Yochanan, Shimon, Elazar and Yonatan -- carried on the battle to their eventual victory, celebrated each year since by Jews the world over with the festival of Chanukah.

Links: VirtualChanukah.com; a Chanukah anthology

On this night in 1938 and continuing into the next day -- November 9 on the secular calendar -- the Nazis coordinated vicious pogroms against the Jewish community of Germany. Encouraged by their leaders, rioters attacked and beat Jewish residents, burned and destroyed 267 synagogues, vandalized 7,500 Jewish businesses, and ransacked countless Jewish cemeteries, hospitals, schools, and homes, while police and firefighters stood by. Ninety-one Jews were killed and 20,000 others were deported to concentration camps.

These pogroms, which collectively came to be known as Kristallnacht (“night of broken glass,” referring to the thousands of windows that were broken) were a turning point after which Nazi anti-Jewish policy intensified.

Daily Thought

“Will the judge of all the earth not do justice?”—Abraham, Genesis 18:25.

There are things in Torah we do not understand, and Torah provides no explanation.

G-d made a covenant with Abraham that his children would inherit the Land of Israel. But first, he was told, his children would have to suffer oppression in a foreign land.

Why? We do not know.

All we know is that it is impossible that this was a punishment. It is also impossible that it served no purpose, that it was not necessary. G-d is just. That is all we know.

So too, it is impossible that the Holocaust was a punishment for sins.

Even the Accusing Angel himself could never have found sufficient sins in that generation to justify the extermination of six million holy martyrs with such unspeakable cruelty.

The wisdom of Torah provides us no explanation at all . All we know is that this was His decree, although certainly not something He desired. And that it is somehow necessary and justified, as we will one day understand.

For a moment, painfully for Him and for us, He abandoned us. But certainly, it was not a punishment for sins.

10th of Tevet, 5751 (Sefer Hasichot 5751, vol. 1, pg. 233.)