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Shabbat, May 30, 2020

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Shavuot 2nd Day
Jewish History

Avraham ben Avraham, the famed "Ger Tzedek" (Righteous Convert) of Vilna, was born as Valentin Potozki, the son of Count Potocki, one of the richest landowners in Poland. As a student in Vilna he discovered Judaism and decided to convert -- a capital offense in most countries in Christian Europe at the time. He fled to Amsterdam where he secretly converted to Judaism, assuming the name Avraham ben Avraham ("Abraham the son of Abraham").

Years later he returned to Vilna, where he was eventually recognized as the missing son of Count Potocki and arrested by the church. He refused to renounce his faith and was sentenced to death. He was burned at the stake in Vilna on the 2nd day of Shavuot of 1749.

Link: The Ger Tzedek of Wilno

Laws and Customs

Outside of the Land of Israel, Shavuot is observed for a 2nd day today.

Links: Shavuot

Yizkor, the remembrance prayer for departed parents, is recited today after the morning reading of the Torah.

Links:
The Yizkor Prayer
Honor Due to Parents
On Breavement and Mourning

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.

Links:

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

Daily Thought

The very first rule was made to be broken
—the rule that heaven is heaven and earth is earth and each must remain in its place.

The first to break that rule was the very One who made it,
when His glory descended upon Mount Sinai.
And He gave us a Torah so that we, too, could continue breaking that rule
—and all the rules that extend from it:

The rule that truth must remain in the mind,
but not descend into the heart;

That serenity and spirituality must remain in secluded places
and not enter your place of work;

That the innermost wisdom is to remain a secret of the wise
and not spill out onto the street;

That your challenges, your upbringing, your handicaps must hold you back
and not allow you to become who you really are.

All these and all their like are rules made to be broken,
and Torah is the key to unlock their chains.

Maamar Gal Einai 5737.