ב"ה
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Tuesday, 12 Adar II, 5782

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

After 334 years, the 2nd Holy Temple in Jerusalem (see "Today in Jewish History" for Adar 3) was in disrepair. In the year 19 BCE, King Herod I floated the idea of rebuilding and renovating the Temple. Though many Jews were wary of Herod’s motives, the renovation was completed eight years later. The new structure was magnificent, causing the Talmud to state: "He who has not seen Herod's edifice has not seen a magnificent edifice!"

Link: Herod the Great

On the afternoon of 12 Adar II 5752 (March 17, 1992), a pickup truck loaded with explosives smashed into the front of the Israeli Embassy and detonated. The embassy, a church, and a school were destroyed. The blast killed 29 and wounded 242.

Daily Thought

On Purim, it’s a mitzvah to hear the story of Esther read from a scroll—called a “megillah”—both by day and by night.

The Talmud tells us, “If you read the story backwards, you haven’t read the story.” (Megillah 2a.)

Of course, that means you have to read the story in the order it’s written.

But the Baal Shem Tov gave a deeper meaning to the words of our sages:

If you read the story of Esther and of her people, of the rise of Haman and his own self-destruction, of secret heroes and hidden miracles…

…if you read all this as though it was all a backstory —something that occurred a long time ago and now provides only historical context —you haven’t read the story.

Because Jews have never had the luxury to retell this story as something we have put behind us.

Haman persists to reappear in his many incarnations, as a dictator, as an ideology, as the antipathy that surrounds us, or, most pernicious of all, as the cold apathy that chills our heart from within.

Both as a nation, as well as individuals, we rely every day on hidden miracles, often through the agency of secret Esthers and Mordechais, and always by divine intervention, simply to remain the nation we were chosen to be.

A Jew looks around and discovers: We are standing in the middle of the story of Purim right now.

—Keter Shem Tov, Hosafot, 100. Likutei Sichot vol. 6, p. 189, 385. Ibid vol. 7, p. 332. Purim, 5736, 5742.