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Shabbat, July 26, 2014

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Tammuz 28 is the yahrzeit of Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum (1759-1841) of Uhely, Hungary, author of Yismach Moshe and patriarch of the Hungarian Chassidic dynasties.

Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried (1804-1886) was born in Uzhhorod (Ungvar) in the Carpathian region of the Habsburg Empire (now Ukraine). When he was eight years old, Shlomo's father, Rabbi Yosef, passed way, and Ungvar's chief rabbi, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh Heller, assumed legal guardianship of Shlomo. In 1830, he abandoned his work as a wine merchant and accepted the position of Rabbi of Brezovica (Brezevitz). In 1849, he returned to Ungvar to serve as a rabbinical judge. Realizing that the average Jew required a basic knowledge of practical halachah, Rabbi Ganzfried compiled the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, an abbreviated digest of Jewish law. To this day, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch remains a classic halachic work, and it has been translated into many languages.

In addition to the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, he authored many works including Kesset HaSofer, a halachic primer for scribes, and Pnei Shlomo, a commentary on the Talmud.

Laws and Customs

This Shabbat is Shabbat Mevarchim ("the Shabbat that blesses" the new month): a special prayer is recited blessing the Rosh Chodesh ("Head of the Month") of upcoming month of Av (also called "Menachem Av") which falls on Monday of next week.

Prior to the blessing, we announce the precise time of the molad, the "birth" of the new moon. Click here for molad times.

It is a Chabad custom to recite the entire book of Psalms before morning prayers, and to conduct farbrengens (chassidic gatherings) in the course of the Shabbat.

Links:
On the Significance of Shabbat Mevarchim
Tehillim (the Book of Psalms)
The Farbrengen

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 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.

Links:
The Three Weeks

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.