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Thursday, June 24, 2021

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

After the postilion (coach driver) of the governor killed the four-year-old son of a councilor, charges were lodged against a Jew named Michael Vinelmann, a former resident of Basel, alleging that he had promised the murderer three gulden for the blood of the child. The murderer was broken on the wheel, and the Jew burned alive without trial.

Shortly before, a similar accusation had been brought against the Jews of Schaffhausen and been successfully refuted. When news of Michael Vinelmann's fate was brought to Schaffhausen, several of the Jews of the city fled and were soon captured. They were taken back to Schaffhausen, where they were thrown into a dungeon and terribly tortured. Unable to endure the pain, they "confessed" to the crime of which they had been accused, whereupon all the Jews living in Schaffhausen were condemned to death. Thirty Jews were burned alive. Four weeks later, eighteen men and women died at the stake in Winterthur in a similar context.

Rabbi Yosef Trani, known as the Maharit (1568-1639), was born in Safed and married a descendant of Rabbi Yosef Cairo. When a plague broke out in Safed, he abandoned the city, but returned in 1594 to head a yeshivah. In 1604, he was appointed rabbi of Constantinople and, a few years later, leader of Turkish Jewry. He is renowned for his responsa published under the title Teshuvot Maharit.

Daily Thought

“Jacob! Your tents are so good!” (Balak 24:5)

Bilam was the most powerful shaman of all time. King Balak paid him handsomely to lay his curses on the Jewish people.

But when Bilam observed the Jewish people and saw that the openings of their tents did not face one another…

…meaning that they weren’t prodding into each other’s private lives, and neither were they putting their own lives on public display…

…then Bilam realized this was not a people he could curse.

Because when a society values and protects the inner life of its individuals it protects itself. It is a healthy, whole organism. The Divine Presence breathes within it. No illness can conquer it, no intruder can penetrate its borders.

See Likutei Sichot, vol. 13, pg. 78.