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Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Moses was born in Egypt on the 7th of Adar of the year 2368 from creation (1393 BCE) and passed away on his 120th birthday -- Adar 7, 2488 (1273 BCE)

A brief biography
The Birth of a Leader
The Head
Moses Disappears
More on Moses

The Inquisition was created in the twelfth century to find "Christian heretics" who would be punished or killed. Eventually, Jews too were open to such charges of heresy, simply for being Jewish; and torture was routinely used to extract "confessions." Over the years, the inquisition, which operated with Papal consent, spread to many countries.

In 1481 the Inquisition began to function in Spain to expose the secret Jews, known as the Anusim or Marranos. This Inquisition was anti-Jewish more than in any previous countries. The first public sentencing and burning alive of six Jewish men and one woman by the Spanish Inquisition was held on this date in Seville in Southern Spain.

Following the start of the Spanish Inquisition many Jews fled Spain (see "Today in Jewish History" for Sivan 4).

Born in the year 1550 in Luntschitz, Poland, with just the name Ephraim, the name Sholomo was added later during a life-threatening illness (a common practice in Judaism).

Rabbi Sholomo Efraim was a disciple of the famed Talmudist, Rabbi Sholomo Luria, author of the Yam Shel Sholomo, as well as the great Jewish kabalist and philosopher, Rabbi Judah Lowe, known as the “Maharal of Prague.”

In the year 1604, after having first headed the yeshivah in Levov, he was appointed rabbi of Prague, replacing Rabbi Lowe, who was then quite elderly. He held the position until his passing.

He is the author of a number of works, but is perhaps best known for his work Kli Yakar (a commentary on the Torah) and Olelot Ephraim (a collection of sermons).

While most say he passed away on 7 Adar II, some records have 7 Iyar as the correct date.

Among his prominent students was Rabbi Yom Tov Lipman Heller, author of a classic commentary on the Mishnah called Tosfot Yom Tov.

On December 12, 1941, the Struma ship set off from the port of Constanta, Romania, carrying 800 Jewish Romanian refugees headed for British Mandatory Palestine. The ship was detained at Istanbul, where British authorities refused to allow the ship to continue to its destination. On February 23, 1942, Turkish authorities towed the ship out to the Black Sea, where it drifted aimlessly due to a failed engine. The next day, the ship was sunk by a Soviet submarine. Only one passenger survived the horrific disaster.

Laws and Customs

The Chevrah Kadisha (Jewish Burial Societies) hold their annual get-together and feast on Adar 7th. This is based on the tradition that G-d Himself buried Moses on this day -- granting them a respite from their labors.

Once a month, as the moon waxes in the sky, we recite a special blessing called Kiddush Levanah, "the sanctification of the moon," praising the Creator for His wondrous work we call astronomy.

Kiddush Levanah is recited after nightfall, usually on Saturday night. The blessing is concluded with songs and dancing, because our nation is likened to the moon—as it waxes and wanes, so have we throughout history. When we bless the moon, we renew our trust that very soon, the light of G‑d's presence will fill all the earth and our people will be redeemed from exile.

Though Kiddush Levanah can be recited as early as three days after the moon's rebirth, the kabbalah tells us it is best to wait a full week, till the seventh of the month. Once 15 days have passed, the moon begins to wane once more and the season for saying the blessing has passed.


Kiddush Levana: Sanctification of the Moon
Brief Guide to Kiddush Levanah: Thank G‑d for the Moon!

Daily Thought

And you, you shall command the children of Israel to bring you pure olive oil, crushed to be a luminary, to rise as an everlasting flame…from evening until morning… (Exodus 27:20-21)

“Command” in Hebrew is tzivah, which also means “connect.”

Moses was told to connect his people.

Connect them to the infinite light of G‑d.

Connect them to one another to become a single people.

Connect them at an essential soul-level, where they hold a pure source of light.

How do you connect them?

By bringing them to discover that pure, luminescent oil within themselves.

Then they will rise and shine.

They will shine at night, in a darkness that crushes their bodies and souls, only to bring out a yet finer oil.

And they will shine even in the day, crushed to discover that a world of comfort and luxury cannot satisfy their yearnings.

When they shine both in the night and in the day, then we know they have the purest of oils, and their flame is an eternal flame.

Because when they are connected from their inner soul, they are not only connected to the light. They are connected to the Luminary, the Source of All Light. The light can rise and flicker, but the Source of Light is beyond change.

This is the task of every representative of Moses in every generation: To guide each soul to discover its connection-point with the essence of G‑d and with every other holy soul.

Maamar V’Attah Tetzaveh.