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Shabbat, March 20, 2021

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

The Jewish nation mourned for thirty days following the passing of Moses. (During this time, Joshua, the new leader of the Jewish nation, sent scouts to spy on the land of Canaan, see Jewish History for the 5th of Nissan).

On the 7th of Nissan, the first day after the mourning period came to an end, Joshua instructed the Jews to stock up on provisions and prepare themselves to cross the Jordan river and begin the conquest of the Promised Land. This was the first time Joshua addressed the nation, and they unconditionally accepted him as their new leader.

The actual crossing occurred on the 10th of Nissan.

Joshua 1

In 1890, Dr. Moshe Wallach emigrated from his native Germany to the Land of Israel. Ten years later, he founded the Shaarei Zedek Hospital, one of Jerusalem’s most prominent hospitals. Dr. Wallach was a strictly observant Jew, and the hospital protocol follows Shabbat and kashrut observance, and provides religious services for both weekdays and holidays.

In 1929, during a journey by boat from Alexandria to Trieste, Dr. Wallach cured Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn when he fell ill with a kidney ailment.

Link: Cause and Effect

Laws and Customs

In today's "Nasi" reading (see "Nasi of the Day" in Nissan 1), we read of the gift bought by the nasi of the tribe of Ephraim, Elishama ben Amihud, for the inauguration of the Mishkan.

Text of today's Nasi in Hebrew and English.

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

They translate it as “sacrifice” or “offering,” but the Hebrew word korban means none of these. Korban means to get close to G-d.

How does a warm-blooded creature built of meat and bones get close to G-d?

G-d is beyond heaven and earth. We are stuck firmly at the ground floor. A wild beast kicks and screams inside us, forever running us off the path of reason and throwing us back to the ground.

So the Torah says: Take that animal of yours. Make it your korban to G-d.

Work with that animal. Teach it. Tame it. Bring it to do good things—with its heart, its guts, with all its earthiness. Let it have even just a sip of Torah’s divine wisdom.

No aroma is more pleasing to G-d than such a korban, than a human beast roasted and spiced with the divine. With such a korban, all creatures of this world, as well as all the heavenly worlds rise yet higher, and as they rise, a burst of divine light is released into your world.

A light, says the Zohar, beyond any light even the highest of heavens could contain.

There is no greater closeness to G‑d than one small act of the divine performed by your beast inside.