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Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Rabbi Avraham Chaim Na'eh (1890-1954) was born in Hebron to Rabbi Menachem Mendel Na'eh, a Lubavitcher chassid and dean of the Magen Avot, a yeshiva founded by the S'dei Chemed. With the outbreak of World War One, the Ottomans, who controlled the Land of Israel at the time, expelled anyone who was not a citizen of the empire. Most of the exiled Jews, including Rabbi Avraham Chaim, gathered in Alexandria, Egypt. During his time there, Rabbi Avraham Chaim founded Yeshivat Eretz Yisrael and wrote the halachic work Shenot Chaim, a concise digest of halachah for Sephardic Jews. In 1918, he returned to Palestine to work for the Edah HaChareidit (a prominent Orthodox communal organization), under Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld.

Rabbi Na'eh best known for his halachic works Ketzot ha-Shulchan and Shiurei Torah ("measurements of the Torah"), in which he converted archaic halachic measurements into modern terms. Contemporary halachic authorities follow his measurements to this day.

Laws and Customs

During the Three Weeks, from 17th of Tamuz to the 9th of Av, we commemorate the conquest of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Holy Temple and the dispersion of the Jewish people.

Weddings and other joyful events are not held during this period; like mourners, we do not cut our hair, and various pleasurable activities are limited or proscribed. (The particular mourning customs vary from community to community, so consult a competent halachic authority for details.)

Citing the verse (Isaiah 1:27) "Zion shall be redeemed with mishpat [Torah] and its returnees with tzedakah," the Rebbe urged that we increase in Torah study (particularly the study of the laws of the Holy Temple) and charity during this period.

The Three Weeks

Daily Thought

At first, there was punishment.

There were prophets who warned the people—for there is no punishment without warning.

There were people who understood what they were doing and did it anyways—for there is no punishment without conscious intent.

And so, up to and including the destruction of the First Temple, there was punishment.

But then came a time when there were no prophets to provide due warning. And rare was the man who had the power of mind to intentionally sin. The suffering that occurred then, since the time of the Second Temple, cannot be called punishment. Instead it is called “tikun”—healing, repair. Souls of past generations returned to this world to be repaired by standing firm despite great challenge and tribulation.

Then came the master of the hidden wisdom, the great Ari. According to his disciples, with his teachings he repaired all the souls of Israel.

It follows, writes the Mitteler Rebbe, that the sufferings of the Jewish people since the Holy Ari, of blessed memory, are neither punishment nor repair. If so, what are they?

We do not know.

One thing we do know: We know that we are witnessing something beyond our ability at present to understand.

But simply because the human mind cannot know a thing, does that mean this thing cannot exist? Because we cannot give a reason, is there then no reason?

Or perhaps it simply means that we should be a little more humble, since we are not the ones who made this world. We must wait, and when all the drama is done, then we will know with the knowledge of the Author Himself.

Only then, once we leave behind forever these dark clouds, will we fathom and truly see that all the darkness was truly a profound form of light.

See Sefer Hasichot 5751a, page 248, footnote 116.