ב"ה
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Shabbat, 4 Av, 5783

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Nine Days
Jewish History

R. Menachem Azariah of Fano, Italy, was a famed Talmudic scholar and kabbalist. A prolific author, he composed numerous works in both kabbalah and Jewish law, the most famous of which is Asarah Maamaros, a collection of kabbalistic treatises. Additionally, he used his wealth to obtain and publish the works of other great sages (such as R. Yosef Caro’s Kessef Mishneh).

R. Menachem Azariah was a devoted follower of the great kabbalist R. Moshe Cordovero, whom he also lent financial support. Later, he was introduced to the kabbalistic doctrines of R. Yitzchak Luria (the Arizal), which he embraced wholeheartedly as well.

Link: Rabbi Menachem Azariah de Fano

Laws and Customs

The Shabbat before the Ninth of Av is called Shabbat Chazon ("Shabbat of Vision") after the opening words of the day's reading from the prophets ("haftara"), which is the third of the series of readings known as "The Three of Rebuke." On this Shabbat, say the Chassidic masters, we are granted a vision of the Third Temple; we may not see it with our physical eyes, but our souls see it, and are empowered to break free of our present state of galut (exile and spiritual displacement) and bring about the Redemption and the rebuilding of the Temple.

Links:
The Holy Temple: an Anthology
Shabbat of Vision
About the "Three of Rebuke"
http://www.thethreeweeks.com

During the summer months, from the Shabbat after Passover until the Shabbat before Rosh Hashahah, we study a weekly chapter of the Talmud's Ethics of the Fathers ("Avot") each Shabbat afternoon; this week we study Chapter Two.

Link: Ethics of the Fathers, Chapter 2

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

In Solomon’s Temple, there were two places reserved for the Holy Ark:
One in the Chamber of the Holy of Holies,
and one hidden deep beneath that chamber.

There are two places to find G‑d’s presence in all its glory.

One is in the most holy of chambers, beyond the place of light and heavenly incense. There G‑d Himself could be found by the most perfect of mortals on the most sublime day of the year.

Today, we cannot enter that place. But there is another place, beyond catacombs and convoluted mazes, deep within the bowels of the earth—and yet always accessible to those who will make the journey.

There, those whose faces are charred with the ashes of failure, their hands bloody from scraping through dirt and stone, their clothes torn from falling again and again, and their hearts ripped by bitter tears—there, in that subterranean darkness, they are blinded by the light of the hidden things of G‑d . . .

. . . until that Presence will shine for all of us, forever.

Likkutei Sichot, vol. 21, pp. 156ff.