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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Rabbi Isaac Luria Ashkenazi, known as Ari HaKadosh ("The Holy Lion") passed away on the 5th of Av of the year 5332 from creation (1572 CE). Born in Jerusalem in 1534, he spent many years in secluded study near Cairo, Egypt. In 1570 he settled in Safed, where he lived for two years until his passing at age 38. During that brief period, the Ari revolutionized the study of Kabbalah, and came to be universally regarded as one of the most important figures in Jewish mysticism. It was he who proclaimed, "In these times, we are allowed and duty-bound to reveal this wisdom," opening the door to the integration of the teachings of Kabbalah--until then the province of a select few in each generation--into "mainstream" Judaism.

Links: A Tale of Two Kabbalists
Fallen Sparks
What is Kabbalah?
About The Ari

R. Chaim Ozer Grodzinski served as rabbi of the prestigious Jewish community of Vilna, Lithuania, for over fifty years. He was a distinguished scholar, and he authored Achiezer, a collection of halachic responsa.

A devoted communal activist, R. Chaim Ozer worked together with the fifth and sixth Lubavitcher Rebbes, R. Sholom DovBer and R. Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, on many projects to ease the plight of Russian Jewry (such as the 1929 struggle to send matzah into the Soviet Union).

Link: The Rebbe Goes to Vilna

Laws and Customs

During the “Nine Days" from Av 1st to the Ninth of Av, we mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple. We abstain from meat and wine, music, haircutting, bathing for pleasure, and other joyous (and dangerous) activities. (The particular mourning customs vary from community to community, so consult a competent halachic authority for details.)

Consumption of meat and wine is permitted on Shabbat, or at a seudat mitzvah (obligatory festive meal celebrating the fulfillment of certain mitzvot) such as a brit (circumcision), or a siyum celebrating the completion of a course of Torah study (i.e., a complete Talmudic tractate). The Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory initiated the custom of conducting or participating in a siyum on each of the Nine Days (even if one does not avail oneself of the dispensation to eat meat).

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

Links:
Nine Days laws and customs
Daily live siyum broadcasts
Learn about the Holy Temple in Jerusalem

Daily Thought

The First Temple, why was it destroyed? Because of idolatry, murder and adultery.

The Second Temple, when they were occupied in studying Torah, doing mitzvahs, and acts of loving-kindness, why was it destroyed?

Because there were those who were intolerant of others without cause. Which teaches us that senseless intolerance is equal to idolatry, murder and adultery combined. (Talmud Yoma 9b.)

There is no sin of senseless intolerance listed in Torah. And yet, while the cardinal sins of Torah demanded only 70 years of exile, intolerance is so sinister, so powerful, it can take us almost two thousand years to heal from its wounds.

In simple terms, it’s much easier to deal with obvious, open failures and repair them. Intolerance, however, comes concealed beneath layers of justifications and self-righteousness. When you don’t believe you’ve done anything wrong, and on the contrary, that you were fighting a holy war, it’s hard to make up for all the damage caused.

Yet there is a deeper reason: Other sins, even the most heinous sins, are symptoms of flaws in the human person. To repair those flaws, each of us is granted 70 years upon this earth—ten years for each of the seven categories of emotions.

But intolerance of the other lies at the primal genesis of evil, at the point of fissure and subsequent fragmentation that occurred in the earliest stages of creation, as the universe lost contact with the infinite divine light that preceded it.

Because it is embedded so close to the core of our reality, it can attack the core of the human psyche, chochmah, the seminal point of reason.

That is why its antidote must also transcend reason. It must be related to the primordial infinite light itself, a light that knows no bounds. The key to healing humanity is therefore unreasonable.

Which means that with a single unpredictable and unconditional act of one human caring for another, connecting with another, especially another he feels he cannot tolerate, the whole of creation is healed and fulfilled.

Likutei Torah, Matot 86a, 88b.