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Thursday, June 13, 2024

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 say this blessing, 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

People think that the instructions come first, the dos and the don’ts, thou shalts and thou shalt nots. Later comes a sense of the divine, the mystical, the transcendental.

But let’s say you encountered a Jew returning from Mount Sinai, where he shivered from the thunder, trembled from the lightning, where he heard G-d’s voice speaking to him directly, loud and clear.

And you asked, “So what did He say?”

“What did He say? The entire world disappeared for us! The heavens opened wide! We saw with our own eyes, experienced with every bone in our body, that there is truly nothing else but Him!”

That is the starting place of Torah, and the first approach of even the simplest Jew—that there is really nothing else but G-d. From there comes every mitzvah he does.

Study the inner wisdom of Torah and re-experience Mount Sinai.