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Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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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

Daily Thought

Remember that which Amalek did to you on the way as you were leaving Egypt. He met you on the way…(Deut. 25:17-18)

“He met you…” (אשר קרך) can also be read as “He made you cold.”

“…on the way…”

Just as you are getting somewhere, just as you are making your exodus towards a life in the promised land filled with the beauty of Torah and celebrating your Jewish soul…just then, a cold voice speaks from inside.

A voice with a thousand cogent reasons why it’s foolish to be excited and you need to just cool down.

It says: You're a rational person. When you hear G‑d’s voice from within the fire on the mountain, determine what makes sense to you and what does not. Don't allow anything into your heart that doesn't fit into the neat little boxes of your established way of thinking.

Already, you are back in slavery. Slavery to an Egypt of your own mind.

Amalek, you see, was a great-grandchild of Abraham. Amalek knows the one Creator of heaven and earth as well as you do. He simply is not fazed by any of that.

And Amalek is a grandson of our brother, Esau, a genius in rationalizing anything he wanted to do.

So Amalek uses your own mind to switch off the fire burning in your heart. You're now stuck on the road without an engine. Helpless prey for the beasts of the wilderness.

You can't use your mind against him, because he will hijack it. And yet, there is a hard-proven strategy to defeat Amalek:

Keep a fire burning in your soul. Fan its flames with the Torah wisdom of great sages, fuel it with the passion of your mitzvahs, and yet more mitzvahs, whatever mitzvahs come your way. Don't measure them. Just do.

If an Amalekite meets you along the way, and asks, “Why this mitzvah? Aren't there better ones?” slam your foot on the gas. It doesn't matter how rational that voice might sound—if it cools you down, it is out to destroy you.

It is Amalek, the perpetual nemesis of Israel.

Likutei Sichot, vol. 1, p. 208; vol. 2, p. 387.