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Sunday, December 6, 2020

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Chof Kislev - "Rosh Hashanah of Chassidism"
Jewish History

Ezra, head of the Sanhedrin and the leader of the Jewish people at the time of the building of the Second Temple, made an historic address to a three-day assemblage of Jews in Jerusalem, exhorting them to adhere to the teachings of the Torah and to dissolve their interfaith marriages (the Jewish people were on the verge of complete assimilation at the time, following their 70-year exile in Babylonia).

Links: On Intermarriage

The first printing of the "bible of Chassidism", the Tanya, the magnum opus of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad.

Links: The Longer Shorter Way; Lessons in Tanya (includes an English translation of the Hebrew text plus explanatory commentary in English)

Laws and Customs

The Rosh Hashanah ("new year") of Chassidism, marking the liberation of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi and the subsequent blossoming of Chabad Chassidism, is celebrated for two days, Kislev 19-20. (The Rebbe was released from prison on the 19th, but his full freedom was only obtained late in the evening -- Kislev 20 on the Jewish Calendar.) The two days are celebrated with farbrengens (Chassidic gatherings) and an increased commitment to the ways and teachings of Chassidism. Tachnun (supplication) and similar prayers are omitted. For more information and links, see entries for yesterday Kislev 19.

In Chabad practice, Tachanun (confession of sins) and similar prayers are omitted today.
Daily Thought

Without miracles, we might come to believe that the laws of physics define reality. Once we witness the inexplicable, we see that it’s not a closed system, that there is a higher reality.

And then we look back at physics and say, “This too is a miracle.”

The miracle of a small flask of oil burning for eight days was this sort of miracle. The combustion of oil and oxygen generated light, and yet the quantity of oil did not diminish.

Then there are those small miracles that occur every day, those acts of synchronicity we call “coincidence,” because in them G‑d prefers to remain incognito, leaving all the laws of nature intact.

Indeed, that is an even greater miracle, that G‑d can achieve whatever He so desires non-invasively, as though He weren’t even there.

These were the sort of miracles the tiny band of Maccabees saw in their battles against the mighty Greek army. They fought bravely, but in their hearts they knew a great miracle happened here.

So too, when we open our eyes and hearts, we ponder those everyday coincidences and we awaken to the realization that there is truly no place void of this wondrous, unlimited G‑d.