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Shabbat, February 20, 2021

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Zachor
Jewish History

In the 1660's the Jewish community of Barbados gained considerable importance. However, they had a decided disadvantage in that their testimony was not admissible in court due to their refusal to take an oath on a Christian Bible. In October 1669, the Jewish community presented a petition requesting permission to take oaths on the Five Books of Moses, the Jewish Bible.

Several years later, on Wednesday, February 14, 1674, Barbados passed a law granting the Jewish community the permission they requested.

In 1715, the Crown Colony of Maryland enacted a law requiring any citizen who wished to hold public office to take an oath of abjuration, which contained the words, "upon the true faith of a Christian." In 1776, the new constitution of the State of Maryland reaffirmed this law, requiring any oath of office to contain a declaration of belief in the Christian religion.

In the decades that followed, the struggle to repeal this law attracted national attention.

On February 26, 1825 an act "for the relief of the Jews in Maryland," was passed by Maryland's House of Delegates. The bill allowed every Jewish citizen to take an oath which professes his belief in a "future State of Rewards and Punishments, in the stead of the declaration now required by the Constitution and form of Government of this State."

R. Eliyahu HaKohen was a preacher and author who lived in Izmir, Turkey. He was known for his weekly sermons which inspired many people to repentance, and for his efforts in collecting and distributing charity to the poor. His ethical work Shevet Mussar—only one of the thirty-plus works he authored—is widely studied and has been translated into multiple languages. He passed away on 8 Adar.

Link: In Appreciation

Laws and Customs

This being the Shabbat before Purim, on which we celebrate the foiling of Haman the Amalekite's plot to destroy the Jewish people, the weekly Parshah is supplemented with the Zachor reading (Deuteronomy 25:17-19) in which we are commanded to remember the evil of Amalek and to eradicate it from the face of the earth.

"Parshat Zachor" is the second of four special readings added during or immediately before the month of Adar (the other three being "Shekalim", "Parah" and "Hachodesh")

Links:
The Zachor Reading with commentary
More on Who Was Amalek?

Daily Thought

Two rivers take you home: One flows with bitter tears of remorse,
the other with sweet tears of joy.

For most of time, the principal path of travel was the bitter one. Only once soaked in those bitter waters could you rise to embrace your G‑d with joy.

But now we have experienced more than our fill of pain. That which our people suffered in lands across the ocean has purged every stain, bleached every garment of our souls, refined us and lifted us high.

We have cried enough bitter tears. Now is time to return with joy.

Maamar Margalia B’Fuma D’Rabba 5746. Blessing on Erev Yom Kippur 5750.