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Monday, June 14, 2021

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Rabbi Yaakov ben Meir of Ramerupt (1100?-1171), known as "Rabbeinu Tam", was a grandson of Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, 1040-1105), and one of the primary authors of the Tosaphot commentary on the Talmud; the Bet-Din (rabbinical court) he headed was regarded as the leading Torah authority of his generation.

Links:
Rabbeinu Tam (Rabbi Yaakov ben Meir)

Rabbi Meir ben Baruch ("Maharam") of Rothenburg (1215?-1293), the great Talmudic commentator and leading Halachic authority for German Jewry, was imprisoned in the fortress at Ensisheim. A huge ransom was imposed for his release. The money was raised, but Rabbi Meir refused to allow it to be paid lest this encourage the further hostage taking of Jewish leaders. He died in captivity after seven years of imprisonment.

Link: Maharam (a brief biography)

Rabbi Pinchas HaLevi Horowitz (1730-1805) was the rabbi of Frankfurt and the author of Sefer Hafla'ah and Sefer HaMikneh -- commentaries on the Talmud -- and Panim Yafot, an exegesis on the Torah. Rabbi Pinchas and his brother Rabbi Shmuel Shmelke of Nikolsburg (Mikulov) were students of the Mezritcher Maggid. They were amongst the first adherents to the Chassidic movement to hold rabbinic posts in Western Europe. The famed Rabbi Moshe Sofer, known as the Chatam Sofer, considered Rabbi Pinchas to be one of his main teachers.

Link: The Rabbi and the Ox

As a young man, R. Mendel Futerfas (1906–1995) studied in the underground network of Yeshivat Tomchei Temimim in Soviet Russia. He subsequently was given the task of obtaining the funds necessary to maintain the network of hidden classes, a mission fraught with danger of tremendous proportions. He later risked his life once again to oversee the clandestine escape of hundreds of Lubavitcher Chassidim from the U.S.S.R. via Lemberg in 1946.

As a result of these latter efforts, R. Mendel was caught and sent to work in the Siberian gulags for eight years. After finishing his sentence, he was denied exit from Russia for an additional eight years, until his request was finally granted in 1963. He lived in London and then in Brooklyn until his passing.

R. Mendel was a legend in his time. His dedication to the sixth and seventh Lubavitcher Rebbes, R. Yosef Yitzchak and R. Menachem Mendel Schneerson, were unsurpassed, as were the lengths he was ready to go to assist a fellow Jew. He was known for his sharp wit and humor, and his well-attended farbrengens were interspersed with life-lessons creatively deduced from his experiences in Siberia.

Links: A Cheder in Siberia; The Rabbi and the Thief; Tightrope of Life; Think of Me, and I’ll Think of You

Daily Thought

People think self-surrender means to say, “I have no mind. I have no heart. I only believe and follow, for I am nothing.”

This is not self-surrender—this is a denial of the truth. For it is saying there is a place where G–dliness cannot be—namely your mind and your heart.

G‑d did not give you a brain that you should abandon it, or a personality that you should ignore it. These are the building materials from which you are to forge a sanctuary for Him, the earthly home in which the divine presence yearns to dwell.

Don’t run from the self with which G‑d has entrusted you. Instead, connect it to its true essence above. Let every cell shine with the light of self-surrender.

Maamar Zot Chukat HaTorah, 5725.