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Thursday, November 5, 2020

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Born in 1932, Meir Kahane was a controversial American-Israeli rabbi and activist. In 1968, he founded the Jewish Defense League in New York. With the motto of "Never Again," the stated goal of the organization was to protect Jews from anti-Semitism in all its forms. In 1971, he moved his family to Israel, founding the Kach political party, and he was elected to the Knesset in 1984 (the Kach party was later outlawed in Israel).

In 1990, after concluding a speech in a Manhattan hotel, Kahane was fatally shot by an Egyptian-born terrorist. While strangely acquitted of the murder, El Sayyid Nosair was later convicted in relation to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

On Shabbat morning, Cheshvan 18, 5779 (Oct. 27, 2018), Pittsburgh’s peaceful Jewish enclave of Squirrel Hill was shattered by gunshots as a crazed anti-Semite attacked worshippers at the Tree of Life congregation, killing 11. It was the deadliest attack on Jews on American soil. Reeling from the pain, Pittsburghers struggled to make sense of the tragedy that had befallen their city, and people around the world responded with an outpouring of love, support, mitzvahs and faith.

Daily Thought

When the Romans forbade the study of Torah, Rabbi Chanina ben Tradyon gathered Jews publicly and taught them Torah.

His teacher, Rabbi Yossi ben Kisma, warned him that the Romans would burn him and his Torah at the stake.

Rabbi Chanina asked, “My master, what will be with me in the next world?”

“Do you have any good deeds?” asked Rabbi Yossi.

“Yes,” he answered. I collected money for the poor on Purim. I inadvertently mixed it with my own. So I gave it all to the poor.”

“If so,” his teacher answered, “may my share of the next world be with you.”

What was Rabbi Chanina’s question? He was literally giving his life to teach Torah!

And what was Rabbi Yossi’s response? Isn’t teaching Torah a good deed?

Because Rabbi Chanina questioned whether he was teaching Torah for sincere motives. Perhaps it wasn’t entirely about what G-d wanted from him. Perhaps he was driven by his personal love of knowledge and ideas, not by his divine inner soul.

Giving, on the other hand, does not come easy to intellectuals.

By giving generously, Rabbi Chanina showed that he did what he did not because he wanted to do it, but because it needed to be done.

Talmud Avodah Zarah 18a. Torah Ohr, Toldot 19b. Purim 5721. Likutei Sichot vol. 3, pg. 969, footnote 27.